• International documentary film festival DocsBarcelona to feature 42 films from 26 countries

    The 18th edition of the international documentary film festival DocsBarcelona will open its doors on 25 May. This year, 42 films from 26 countries will be screened in 3 different locations: the Aribau Cinema Club, the CCCB (Barcelona's Contemporary Culture Centre) and La Pedrera's cultural centre, located in Antoni Gaudí's famous building. Through the rich selection of this edition's programme, a wide range of human and social issues will be explored. These will include individual and family stories, pieces on historical memory, films to do with fundamental rights, as well as reflections on the environment and the economy. 'Falciani’s Tax Bomb' by Ben Lewis will open the festival, while the event closing will take place on 31 May with the screening of 'Dancing with Maria' by Ivan Gergolet.

A class tought at the UB's Philosophy Faculty (by E. Rosanas)

3 Catalan universities and 3 colleges among world's best, according to QS and Times rankings

The 2015 QS World University Rankings by Subject has ranked Barcelona’s Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) 22nd in the world in the field of Architecture and 35th in Civil and Structural Engineering. According to the same prestigious ranking, the University of Barcelona (UB) performs well too, ranking as one of the top 50 globally in Philosophy and among the top 200 in 27 of the 36 subject areas. Moreover, The Times Higher Education 100 Under 50 Rankings 2015 lists three Catalan universities - Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) in Barcelona; the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB); and Rovira i Virgili University (URV) in Tarragona– among the top 100 universities worldwide under 50 years old.

The drug prescription fee was in place between June 2012 and January 2013 (by E. Rosanas)

Catalan Government starts refunding drug prescription fee after Constitutional Court ban

The fee that was temporarily charged on each drug prescription in Catalonia between June 2012 and January 2013 has started to be refunded by the Catalan Government, after the Constitutional Court definitively banned it in May 2014. The decision came after an appeal from the Spanish Government, despite the People Party (PP) initially having supported the measure in spring 2012. However, after the Catalan Government started to back independence from Spain in autumn 2012, the PP decided to oppose the drug prescription fee. The measure had been adopted to reduce pharmaceutical spending, with the final goal being to reduce public deficit. In the short period the fee was in place, €45.7 million was directly earned but much more was saved, since drug spending dropped by around 23%. According to the Catalan Government's calculations, so far 100,000 euros has already been returned to approximately 5,000 people and about €6 million will be returned in total. So far, 300,000 people have filed the request, with an average of €20 per person.

A branch of CatalunyaCaixa (by ACN)

BBVA to close 285 branches and lay off 1,700 staff in Catalonia, after Catalunya Banc acquisition

BBVA CEO, Angel Cano, announced on Wednesday a 3-year plan to restructure the bank's presence in Catalonia after the integration of the previously nationally-owned Catalunya Banc, which was purchased last July. The bank's 'number 2' explained they will shut down 285 branches of their network in Catalonia and lay off 1,700 employees, which is 20% of the local workforce including Catalunya Banc's staff. At the end of 2014, BBVA had 639 branches of its own in Catalonia and was working on integrating the 728 branches from the recently-purchased entity. According to the new plan, 150 branches from Catalunya Banc will be closed. According to Cano, the acquisition of the Catalan bank will start bringing positive figures to the Group’s results by 2016.  Furthermore, it is strategic, since the bank will roughly double its presence in Catalonia and will add 1.5 million clients, becoming Catalonia’s second-largest financial entity.

A flat for sale in the Lleida Province (by ACN)

Number of mortgages increases 32% in Catalonia in February, accumulating 10 consecutive months of growth

The number of mortgages on homes in Catalonia registered a 32.4% increase in February compared to the same figure from February 2014. This annual increase strengthens an uninterrupted trend of 10 consecutive months of annual growth. This figure is particularly important taking into account that the crash of the construction and real estate sectors, as well as the lack of bank loans, were some of the main elements of the double economic crisis that affected Catalonia and the rest of Spain between 2008 and 2014. The recovery of the mortgage market is yet another indicator of a broader recovery of the real estate market and the overall economy, although its effects on some aspects of people's lives will still need time to be noticed, such as in the reduction of the high levels of unemployment.

  • Luís Suárez scored 3 goals against Córdoba (by FC Barcelona)

    Córdoba vs FC Barcelona: Barça thrive in Andalusian heat 0–8

    Luis Suárez's hat trick leads the onslaught as Barça overcome arid conditions to win big in the south of Spain. Lionel Messi adds a brace, while Ivan Raktic, Gerard Piqué, and Neymar chip in one apiece. The victory keeps FC Barcelona two points clear at the top of the league table — with just three games remaining — after Real Madrid kept pace with a 3–2 win at Sevilla on Saturday night. It was no surprise that Saturday’s match at the Nuevo Arcángel in Córdoba, Spain, played on a lush oasis of green turf in one of the driest regions of the Iberian Peninsula, actually did take place under conditions likely to be found in the middle of a desert. Although the Andalusian climate is notoriously arid and hot — especially in the summer — the league encounter between hosts Córdoba FC and their northern visitors FC Barcelona featured unseasonably high temperatures — 31ºC / 88ºF at kick-off — scorching sunshine, and bone-dry humidity levels.

  • The Director of Spain'sPublic Prosecution Office, Consuelo Madrigal (by ACN)

    Spain's main prosecutor to fight self-determination as Enlightenment fought "evils" of "obscurantism, fanaticism and tyranny"

    "We have to fight the same evils as the Enlightenment: obscurantism, fanaticism and tyranny", stated Consuelo Madrigal, the Director of Spain's Public Prosecution office – directly appointed by the Spanish Government – when  referring to Catalonia's self-determination process on Thursday in Madrid. Madrigal also added that the Spanish institutions and "the rule of law" have also to fight against the "deviations and errors" of the Catalan self-determination process. However, despite these strong words, she nuanced her statement by stressing something which should be obvious in any democratic country: she "will not prosecute intentions" such as the road map that pro-independence parties have agreed upon. Madrigal also referred to the prosecution launched against the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, for the symbolic consultation vote on independence held on 9 November last.

  • The President of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, Miquel Valls, on Thursday (by ACN)

    Better economic growth, 2.7% in 2015 and 3% in 2016, predicts Catalan Chamber of Commerce

    Barcelona's Chamber of Commerce has predicted that the Catalan economy will grow by 2.7% in 2015 and 3% in 2016. The latest estimates made by the Chamber in February foresaw a growth of 2.5% in the Catalan GDP for this year. The President of the Chamber of Commerce, Miquel Valls, said that this growth "has a lot to do with the surprising recovery of domestic demand, driven by job creation, and increased confidence in the economy." Valls also said that the depreciation of the euro and oil prices are factors that have contributed to the rise in GDP. Besides, the Spanish economy is expected to grow by 2.5% in 2015 according to the IMF or by 2.8% or 2.9% according to the Bank of Spain and the Spanish Government respectively.

Highlights

  • Xavi, Rafinha and Luís Suárez (by FC Barcelona)

    28.04.15 - 23:00

    FC Barcelona vs Getafe CF: Six appeal (6-0)

    Five goals in the first half and one more in the second send Barça storming to a spectacular victory against Getafe in a magical night at the Camp Nou. The evening had conjured up six absolutely stunning goals and a performance, especially in the first half, that was close to perfection. Messi (2), Suárez (2), Neymar and Xavi all found the target. Then win leaves Barça five points clear at the top of the table, pending...

  • A self-portrait by Gabriel Casas (by Gabriel Casas / ACN)

    28.04.15 - 21:08

    Interwar photography from the experimental Gabriel Casas on show in National Art Museum of Catalonia

    From Wednesday 29th of April onwards, the National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC) will exhibit 'Gabriel Casas: Photography, journalism and modernity, 1929-1939', the first great monographic exhibition dedicated to one of the most important photographers of the interwar period. Standing out as the photographer who introduced 'New Vision' photography in Spain, Casas achieved "great maturity" in the decade...

  • Luís Suárez a few days ago at the Camp Nou (by FC Barcelona)

    28.04.15 - 18:45

    FC Barcelona vs Getafe: Barça cannot afford any slip ups

    Barça’s 2-0 win at the weekend in the Catalan derby against Espanyol kept them two points ahead of rivals Real Madrid at the top of the Spanish League table with just five games in the league season remaining. The first of that quintet of title deciders comes on Tuesday against Getafe at Camp Nou, a game that kicks off at 8.00pm CET. The blaugranes cannot afford any slip ups with Carlo Ancelotti’s side breathing down...

  • The Montserrat Basilica, located next to the monastery (by M. Martí)

    27.04.15 - 23:05

    The feast of Our Lady of Montserrat: A Catholic celebration with a Catalan nationalist twist

    The 27th of April is the feast day of the Mare de Déu deMontserrat,Our Lady of Montserrat, or as she is more affectionately called in Catalonia, la Moreneta, "the little dark-skinned one". One of the only black images of the Virgin Mary in Europe, the Virgin of Montserrat is the patron saint of all dioceses in Catalonia and together with St. George (Sant Jordi) is considered the patron saint of the...

  • The state funeral at the Sagrada Família Basilica (by EFE Pool)

    27.04.15 - 22:06

    Sagrada Família hosts state funeral for Alps air tragedy, where 53 Catalan residents died

    A memorial ceremony for the 150 victims of the Germanwings plane, 53 of whom were living in Catalonia, has taken place on Monday evening at Barcelona's Sagrada Família Basilica, the world famous church designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. In the end, the ceremony also included a few words from representatives of the Protestant, Jewish and Muslim communities, after the controversy surrounding the Archbishop of...

  • La Masella ski resort, in the Catalan Pyrenees (by La Masella)

    27.04.15 - 22:04

    Record foreign tourist spending in Catalonia in first quarter of 2015; 12.6% increase

    Foreign tourists spent a record €2.289 billion in Catalonia in the first quarter of 2015, 12.6% more than in the same period last year, according to the Tourist Expenditure Survey (EGATUR) of the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism. This figure surpasses the previous records set in the first quarters of 2014 and 2013, official results published on Monday reveal. This year, the average amount spent per stay in Catalonia...

  • The Spanish PM, Mariano Rajoy, on Monday morning in Madrid (by R. Pi de Cabanyes)

    27.04.15 - 21:47

    Rajoy does not rule out holding Spanish elections on same day as Catalan vote

    The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, has not ruled out the possibility of holding the Spanish General Elections – which should normally be held in late November or early December – at the same time as the Catalan Elections, which are to take place on 27 September. The Catalan Elections are to be transformed into a 'de facto' plebiscite on independence and have been called a year early, as the only option left in order to...

  • The French Alps mountain, where the Germanwings aircraft crashed (by G. Sánchez)

    27.04.15 - 16:16

    King to attend state funeral for Germanwings victims at Sagrada Família on Monday evening

    A state funeral for the victims of the Germanwings plane that was intentionally crashed in the French Alps in March is to be held this Monday evening at 6pm (CET) at Barcelona's Sagrada Família basilica. The flight was going from Barcelona to Düsseldorf and, out of the 150 casualties, 53 were living in Catalonia. The ceremony follows the state funeral that took place in Cologne's Cathedral 10 days ago. The King of Spain, Felipe...

  • CDC's main offices in Barcelona (by R. Garrido)

    24.04.15 - 21:18

    Governing Liberal CDC sells party headquarters, put as judicial warranty if illegal funding were to be proved

    Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya (CDC), which is the Liberal party within the governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU, has announced the sale of its headquarters, based in Barcelona. CDC, whose leader chairs the Catalan Government since 2010, has justified the decision in order "to save money", as they will relocate their activities in a smaller building, better adapted to the party's current needs, they...

  • Isabel Coixet, interviewed by the Catalan News Agency (by I. Peracaula / P. Francesch)

    24.04.15 - 20:55

    Isabel Coixet wins Málaga Film Festival award for her career's work and screens 'Learning to drive'

    The Catalan film director Isabel Coixet screened her second latest film 'Learning to drive', starring Ben Kingsley and Patricia Clarkson at the Málaga Film Festival this Friday. Coixet,is probably the most internationally acclaimed contemporary Catalan filmmaker, having directed 10 feature-length films including 'Things I Never Told You' (1996),  My Life Without Me (2003) which won a Goya Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and...

  • Barça and Bayern Munich will face each other once again in the Champions League's semi-finals, as in 2013 (by FC Barcelona)

    24.04.15 - 18:57

    FC Barcelona to face Bayern Munich in UEFA Champions League semi-finals

    The stage is set and the semi-finals for the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League promises to be one for the ages. Friday's draw in Nyon paired off Barça with Bayern Munich and Juventus with Real Madrid in the final four of Europe's top club competition. The first leg will be played at Camp Nou on 6 May and the second leg will be at Allianz Arena on 12 May. Both games are set for 8.45pm. Luis Enrique's squad will be going up against their...

  • Sant Jordi Day in Tarragona (by ACN)

    23.04.15 - 20:53

    Sant Jordi 2015: the sun shines as loved ones exchange roses and books

    Like in 11 other countries around the world, Catalans celebrate their national patron saint, St. George the dragon-slayer, on the 23rd of April every year. In Catalonia, however, rather than an occasion entrenched in patriotism, Sant Jordi is revered as the lovers' day and the book's day, on which loved ones demonstrate their affection for one another with the exchange of roses and books. The sun is shining and the buzzing atmosphere that...

  • A construction worker (by ACN)

    23.04.15 - 20:38

    Slight unemployment increase in Catalonia, reaching 20.05% in last quarter

    The number of unemployed people in Catalonia has risen by 1,500 people during the first quarter of 2015. The percentage has increased for a second consecutive period although the figures are better than a year ago. According to figures from the Spanish Government's Labour Force Survey, released on Thursday, 758,000 people are out of work in Catalonia and the unemployment rate has risen in quarterly terms. However the first quarter of 2015...

  • The Catalan President, Artur Mas, on Tuesday (by R. Garrido)

    22.04.15 - 22:48

    Catalan President: left-wing pro-independence ERC is not honouring elections agreement

    The Catalan Government President and leader of the centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU, Artur Mas, complained on Wednesday that his ally, the left-wing pro-independence party ERC, is not fully honouring their agreement to call elections on 27 September, which should become a 'de facto' vote on independence. According to Mas, the ERC is not offering its full parliamentary support to the Government. "There is an agreement signed in...

  • The Day of Sant Jordi in Girona, in 2014 (by ACN)

    22.04.15 - 22:38

    Catalans celebrate Sant Jordi Day by exchanging roses and books with their loved ones

    On the 23rd of April, Catalans celebrate the day of their patron saint, Jordi (Saint George). The day is Catalonia's equivalent to Valentine's Day in the Anglo-Saxon world but it is also a day that pays homage to worldwide literature and reading. Men and women offer books and roses to those they love: relatives, friends, work colleagues and particularly to lovers and partners. Every year introduces twists to the tradition with...

  • The founder of Mango, Isak Andic (by ACN)

    22.04.15 - 22:05

    Fashion retailer Mango's sales up 9% for 2014 but profits down by 11%, to €107 million

    The Catalan fashion retailer Mango closed 2014 with a profit of €107 million, 11.2% less than in 2013, when the multinational based in Greater Barcelona earned €120.5 million. However, sales last year increased by 9.3%, reaching some €2.02 billion, with 82% coming from foreign markets, and the remaining 18% from the Spanish market. Online sales turnover now accounts for 9.1% of the company's total sales. In 2014, Mango...