• A bar in Girona (by ACN)

    Unemployment rate in Catalonia falls from 22.1% to 20.22% in the second quarter as 79,300 jobs are created

    The number of unemployed people in Catalonia has decreased by 69,800 in the second quarter of this year; the largest drop in unemployment rates in the whole of Spain and the biggest decline in the jobless population in the last 12 years. Catalonia also created 79,300 new jobs in the second quarter of this year, a rise of 2.68% in comparison to the first quarter. This means that the total unemployment rate in Catalonia has dropped by nearly 2 percentage points since March 2014, falling from 22.1% to 20.22%. Spain as a whole has also registered a drop in unemployment of 310,400 people, meaning the number of jobless citizens is down to 24.47% of the total active population.

Angel de la Fuente presenting the new fiscal balances, calculated with a new methodology for the occasion (by ACN)

The Spanish Government downplays Catalonia's fiscal deficit and rejects reviewing its funding

On Tuesday, the Spanish Finance Minister, Cristóbal Montoro, rejected to review the funding scheme of the Autonomous Communities to grant them more resources, despite the fact that the Catalan Government is under-budgeted. On Wednesday, the Spanish Finance Ministry downplayed Catalonia's fiscal deficit by issuing the so-called fiscal balances, which calculate the inter-territorial fiscal transfers, posting a significantly low Catalan contribution. According to the Spanish Government's new calculations, Catalonia gave away €8.46 billion in 2011, representing 4.35% of its GDP. The figure is significantly lower than the Catalan Government's calculations: €15.01 billion and €11.09 billion, using two complementary methodologies used by the Spanish Executive in 2008 and agreed among independent university experts.

Part of the old Ca l'Alier factory, in Barcelona's 22@ technological and business disctrict (by J. Eloy)

Cisco and Schneider to invest €37 million in smart city innovation centres located in a Barcelonan old factory

An old factory in the 22@ technological and business district of Barcelona, named Ca l'Alier, will be transformed into an innovation centre focused on Smart Cities. The French multinational Schneider Electric and the American networking giant Cisco Systems will invest €6 million in the building's renovation in order to set up their new research centres. The two companies then plan to invest a total of €37 million in the centres over the next 5 years. Barcelona´s City Council will also occupy a part of the renovated building for offices for its new Institute of Technology for the Habitat (BIT Habitat). The renovation of the Ca l'Alier factory will be the first step towards the creation of the Smart City Campus, which will be located throughout the 22@ technological district, a developing business area in Barcelona located around the old Poblenou industrial neighbourhood. The new Ca l'Alier research centres are expected to open in the summer of 2016 and to create 160 jobs.

The opening concert of the 2014 Bachcelona Festival (by L. Roma)

The harpsichord duo Ton Koopman and Tini Mathot opened Bachcelona Festival

The Bachcelona Festival kicked off on Sunday with a concert by renowned harpsichord duo Ton Koopman and Tini Mathot at the Catalan capital's Palau de la Música concert hall. The performance included the famous ‘Art of Fugue,’ one of the most celebrated compositions by Johann Sebastian Bach. The festival, which is designed to showcase the work of the great composer, will run in Barcelona until 27 July 2014. Koopman, a specialist in Baroque music and great interpreter of Bach’s work, gave attendees an intense and enjoyable musical evening, and was accompanied by his wife Mathot. The pair are noted for the authenticity of their performances, which sometimes even use exact replicas of instruments used by Bach.

Jérémy Mathieu in Barcelona El Prat airport (by FC Barcelona)

Defender Jérémy Mathieu joins FC Barcelona for €20 million

FC Barcelona and València CF have reached agreement for the transfer of the French player, Jérémy Mathieu. The French defender will sign a contract with FC Barcelona for the next four seasons, plus an optional season more. The cost of the transfer is €20 million and the buyout clause will be €50 million. Mathieu, born in 1983, is a physically imposing defender who can play in various positions at the back. Until recently, he was considered a natural left-back, but of late he has tended to feature more regularly in the centre of defence.

  • A high-speed train in Girona (by ACN)

    Spanish Government cuts infrastructure investment by 50% in Catalonia and only 25% in the rest of Spain

    According to a report published on Thursday by Barcelona's Chamber of Commerce, the Spanish Government's investment in infrastructure in Catalonia has dropped by 50% in the last 10 years, while it has been reduced by 25% throughout the rest of Spain in the same period. The President of the business association, Miquel Valls, stated that this reduction represents "a break"in the Catalan economy's growth, which could be in a better position to speed up the economic recovery. The report takes into account the executed investment made by the Spanish Government and its public companies in areas such as airports, high-speed railway or harbours. In 2006, the Spanish Parliament recognised "a historical" lack of investment in Catalonia when it approved the Catalan Statute of Autonomy and set a minimum investment percentage share to be made in Catalonia to compensate this in the next 7 years. This share was never respected.

  • Joan Fontcuberta in front of some of his pictures shown in London (by L. Pous)

    London shows the nature photography work by Catalan and Hasselblad Award-winner, Fontcuberta

    Barcelona-born photographer Joan Fontcuberta presents his first major exhibition in the UK, ‘Stranger than Fiction’, which represents an overview of 30 years of his artistic work on nature photography. It opened on Wednesday at London’s Science Museum's Media Space and will be running until the 9th of November. The six-part collection of pictures and artefacts aims to examine the presumed reliability of photography and shake the viewer's consciousness by mixing fact with fiction, science with art, and persuasive storytelling with a deep questioning. After London, the exhibition will travel to the National Media Museum in Bradford (northern England) from the 19th of November 2014 to the 8th of February 2015.

  • A protest for the Spanish Government's abortion reform in Lleida, last June (by ACN)

    Catalonia and 4 other Autonomous Communities oppose the Spanish Government's abortion reform

    The governments of Catalonia, the Basque Country, Andalusia, Asturias and the Canaries have spoken out against the Spanish Executive's draft bill on the Protection of the Life of the Unborn and the Rights of the Pregnant Woman, presented in December 2013. This legislative reform, which still has to be approved in Parliament, aims to restrict the right of abortion only to cases of rape, incest or when the mother´s health is at serious risk. The reform of the People's Party (PP) is far more conservative than the previous laws from 2010 and 1985. It has raised a paramount opposition throughout Spanish society and also at European level. Catalonia and the 4 other Autonomous Communities that are not run by the PP presented this week a formal request to discuss this reform, as the Spanish Executive rejects talking about it with other parties and regional governments.

Highlights

  • Bojan training this summer with Barça's first team (by FC Barcelona)

    23.07.14 - 17:33

    Bojan Krkic quits FC Barcelona and will play for Stoke City

    The FC Barcelona forward will join the Premier League's Stoke City side this summer. After spending nearly his entire footballing life at FC Barcelona, Bojan Krkic says goodbye to his club. The Catalan forward, who was always one step ahead of his age in terms of skill and quality, leaves FC Barcelona with the distinction of being the all-time highest scorer in the Barça youth system. His tally from all his years at La Masia exceeds...

  • Participants of the 2014 WCCM, which is held in Barcelona until the 25th of July (by G. Sánchez)

    23.07.14 - 17:15

    Barcelona is hosting the world's most important conference on computational mechanics and numerical methods

    From the 20th until the 25th of July, more than 4,000 scientists, researchers, engineers and academics from 52 countries will meet in Barcelona's Palau de Congressos de Catalunya for the 11th World Congress on Computational Mechanics (WCCM). Experts will be presenting 3,200 scientific papers and 220 mini-symposiums. They will also develop computer simulations that allow studying the operation of aircrafts,...

  • Mas and Rajoy in the same event in Barcelona in October 2013 (by ACN)

    22.07.14 - 21:21

    Rajoy will meet with the new Socialist leader two days before talking to the Catalan President

    The much awaited meeting between the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, and the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, has finally been announced for Wednesday 30th of July at 11am, after both politicians have stated during several months that they were open to talk. In the meeting they will discuss the institutional and social affairs related to the economic crisis, but they should also talk about the organisation...

  • Foreign tourists in Barcelona (by ACN)

    22.07.14 - 21:20

    Catalonia reaches a new tourism record with 7.1 million foreign visitors in the first half of the year

    Catalonia received 1,677,679 foreign tourists in June, an increase of 2.4% compared with the same month in 2013. The combined number of foreigners who visited the Autonomous Community in the first half of this year reached 7.129 million, which is an increase of 6.7% and sets a historic new record for the number of foreign visitors passing through Catalonia. This good performance has been shared throughout Spain, as it hosted 28 million...

  • BBVA's main offices in Barcelona (by R. Pagano)

    22.07.14 - 20:57

    BBVA buys nationalised Catalunya Banc for €1.19 billion, meaning taxpayers will lose more than €11 billion

    BBVA will pay €1.187 billion to the Fund for Orderly Bank Restructuring (FROB) for the nationalised Catalan bank, beating the other two offers in the final phase of the auction process presented by Santander and Barcelona-based CaixaBank. This means that Spanish taxpayers will lose €11.84 billion considering guarantees and due to the fact that the Spanish Government injected €12.622 billion into Catalunya Banc since it was...

  • The Catalan President, Artur Mas (left) and Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida (right), on Monday (by P. Mateos)

    21.07.14 - 20:59

    CiU's 'number 2' quits his post within the coalition but continues leading the Christian-Democrats

    Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida, who was the Secretary General of the centre-right pro-Catalan State two-party coalition CiU, quit his post on Monday in the middle of the tensions for the self-determination vote and Catalonia's potential independence from Spain. However, Duran will continue to lead the Christian-Democrat party within the CiU (UDC) and to be the CiU's strong man in Madrid. In addition, one of his closest allies within UDC, Ramon...

  • Basf plant in Tarragona (by ACN)

    21.07.14 - 20:58

    BASF postpones its Tarragona intermodal station to 2017 due to Madrid's delay building the Mediterranean Corridor

    German chemical multinational BASF does not expect to launch its intermodal merchant station in Tarragona's petro-chemical compound until early 2017, two years after it initially forecast. The date of commissioning, as recognised by the company, is conditioned by the start of construction of the third rail connecting the railway line in Tarragona to the Mediterranean Railway Corridor (a strategic transport priority for the European Union),...

  • Headbirds playing in New York's Central Park (by Institut Ramon Llull)

    21.07.14 - 20:54

    Catalan bands Mishima, Txarango and Headbirds perform in New York´s Central Park

    Three of Catalonia´s most popular music groups played in Central Park in New York City on Sunday 21st July as part of the SummerStage Festival. The three Catalan performers, Mishima, Txarango and Headbirds, participated in the event under the slogan ´Catalan sounds on tour´, with the aim to internationalise Catalan musicians and performers. The festival is organised by New York´s City Parks Foundation with...

  • The new electric bikes that will be added to the Bicing service (by J. Regué)

    21.07.14 - 20:42

    Barcelona´s public bicycle service due to launch an electrical bike service by the end of this year

    Barcelona´s bicycle sharing service, Bicing, has announced plans to launch an electrical bike service designed to aid longer journeys around the city. This service aims to improve the effectiveness of the current Bicing service by promoting the use of electrical bicycles, which will further enhance the image of Barcelona as a ´Smart City´. An initial trial of the new service will begin this December when 300...

  • Luis Enrique (centre), in his first match as Barça's Manager (by FC Barcelona)

    20.07.14 - 10:16

    Recreativo Huelva v FC Barcelona: Barça's winning start of the 2014/15 pre-season (0-1)

    Luis Enrique led Barça to a win in Huelva thanks to a Joan Roman goal. All FC Barcelona's 23 players got to play, and the visitors dominated from start to finish. The Colombino Trophy match between Recreativo Huelva and Barça will always be remembered for being Luis Enrique’s debut as first team manager. Goalkeeper Ter Stegen got to make his debut, and although he didn’t have much to do, on the few occasions when...

  • The third meeting of the National Alliance for Self-Determination (by P. Mateos)

    18.07.14 - 20:44

    3,000 organisations to send Rajoy a letter asking him not to block "the legal" self-determination vote

    Catalonia's National Alliance for Self-determination, which brings together some 3,000 entities including political parties, local governments, trade unions, employer associations, Chambers of commerce and NGOs, held on Friday its 3rd meeting. The Alliance decided to send the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, a letter to ask him not to block the self-determination vote scheduled for the 9th of November, which...

  • Cranes and containers in the Port of Barcelona (by ACN)

    18.07.14 - 20:36

    Exports from the Port of Barcelona increase by 63% from pre-crisis levels registered in 2008

    63% more exports have been channelled through the Port of Barcelona during the first six months of 2014 than in the same period of 2008, prior to the economic crisis. On Friday, the President of Barcelona Port Authority, Sixte Cambra, announced that 2014 will be the year of record sums of exports and imports from the Catalan port. The Port finished the first half of 2014 with 22.5 million tons of goods transported, representing an increase...

  • MACBA's new documentation and studies centre (by MACBA)

    18.07.14 - 20:34

    Barcelona Contemporary Art Museum (MACBA) broadens its horizons with new exhibition spaces and services

    The Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona (MACBA) is expanding into the nearby Àngels Square in the heart of the historic neighbourhood Raval. On 17th July the museum unveiled the details of its future plans, which are designed to increase the flow of visitors to the art centre. These include increased exhibition spaces and the expansion of the existing MACBA Study Centre. The project is estimated to cost a total of...

  • Agbar's headquarters, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel and located in Barcelona (by ACN)

    18.07.14 - 20:27

    Criteria, the industrial holding of La Caixa, acquires 7% of France's Suez Environnement

    Barcelona-based Criteria CaixaHolding becomes the second largest shareholder of Suez Environnement after signing a binding agreement with the French-based utility company for the sale of Criteria's 24.14% stake in Agbar (Sociedad General de Aguas de Barcelona, S.A.) in exchange for 22 million newly issued Suez Environnement shares. These shares represent 4.1% of Suez's share capital and €299 million in cash. As part of the agreement,...

  • Barcelona's Olympic Stadium located on Montjuic hill (by ACN)

    18.07.14 - 17:45

    Barcelona Olympic facilities to host a 66.000 m2 sports theme park in 2015

    Barcelona Olympic Ring will become the home of the first theme park in the world entirely dedicated to sports, called Open Camp Sportainment. According to the company responsible for the project, the 66.000 m2 theme park will offer a "unique" show involving technology, family and sports. The new attraction will occupy the current Olympic Stadium, the Palau Sant Jordi sports hall, the Olympic Museum, the Bernat Picornell swimming...

  • A branch of CatalunyaCaixa (by ACN)

    18.07.14 - 16:24

    CatalunyaCaixa confirms the sale of its €6.4 billion high risk mortgages to US Blackstone

    CatalunyaCaixa (CX) on Thursday confirmed the sale of its portfolio of high risk loans to US investment company Blackstone, consisting mainly of mortgages with a nominal value of €6.392 billion and provisions of €2.205 billion. The transaction involved the transfer of funds to a portfolio of asset-backed securities for an amount equal to its book value, €4.187 billion, with €3.615 billion supplied by Blackstone and...