• The new European Commissionner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager (by A. Casino)

    European Commission on Catalonia: it’s “always beneficial” to “listen to people”

    “There is one thing that I always find beneficial […] and that is to listen to people; not necessarily because you agree but, without listening, you will never get any wiser yourself”, stated Margrethe Vestager, the new European Commissioner for Competition, when she was asked about Catalonia’s self-determination process. However, Vestager, who used to be Denmark’s Deputy Prime Minister, also added that Catalonia’s self-determination debate should take place “without European interference”. The new Commissioner highlighted that it is “a Spanish-Catalonian issue” and that she has “a deep respect for countries organising themselves in different ways”, underlining the diversity of “constitutions and different histories” as a great European value. She explained that in Denmark they have “a long tradition of referenda” but that she “will not prescribe how other people should do things”.

The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, on the Universal Children's Day (by ACN)

Catalan President: it is “disappointing” that Spain’s reaction to November 9 is based on “courts and prosecutors”

The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, reacted on Thursday to the announcement that the Director of Spain’s Public Prosecutor Office will press charges against him and 2 other members of his cabinet for having authorised November 9’s symbolic vote on independence. Mas stated that “it is disappointing and pitiful” that the Spanish authorities’ reaction to the peaceful mobilisation of 2.3 million citizens is acting “though courts and prosecutors”. Despite the judicial complaint, Mas emphasised that Catalonia “will go on” with its “intentions, in a civic-minded, calm, democratic and firm way”. Besides, the Public Prosecutor Office’s show continued on Thursday, when the main prosecutor in Barcelona Province denied the fact that Catalan prosecutors were all against pressing charges against Mas. On top of this, she will try to re-open all the cases against Mas in relation to November 9’s vote. After this statement, Catalonia’s main prosecutor organised a meeting with the 4 provincial heads in order to set shared criteria regarding this issue.

Alícia Sanchez-Camacho in Madrid on Wednesday in Madrid (by PP)

People’s Party (PP) rejects the Catalan President’s offer to meet with Rajoy in Barcelona

The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, is rejecting the offer sent by the President of Catalonia, Artur Mas, to meet in Barcelona to coincide with the former’s trip to the Catalan capital on November 29. According to Alícia Sánchez-Camacho, the leader of Rajoy’s party in Catalonia, “it is not the time” for such a meeting. In addition, she also said that making the offer in a press conference through the Catalan Government’s Spokesperson “is not the way” of doing things. The Catalan leader of the People’s Party (PP) also pointed out that Rajoy is travelling to Barcelona “to attend a party rally”. During the weekend, the Spanish PM had announced his trip to Catalonia in order “to better explain himself” and talk to Catalans after November 9’s symbolic vote on independence. The Catalan Government invited Rajoy to hold a meeting with Mas as well in order to set institutional dialogue once again. Rajoy is refusing to discuss self-determination and according to Sánchez-Camacho he should only talk with Catalan representatives about the same things he would talk about in the other Autonomous Communities.

The Spanish Finance Minister, Cristóbal Montoro, on Tuesday at the Spanish Parliament (by Congreso de los Diputados)

Spanish Government rules out a new inter-territorial fiscal scheme, despite the current one having legally expired

On Wednesday, the Spanish Finance Minister, Cirstobal Montoro, refused to start negotiating and launching a new funding scheme for the Autonomous Communities before 2016, even though the current model had to be reviewed before January 2014. The Catalan Government has been insisting on its review since 2012, since the system does not properly fund basic public services such as healthcare and education in times of economic crisis, areas which are entirely managed by the Autonomous Communities. In addition, Catalonia suffers a permanently high fiscal deficit: each year Catalan taxpayers have to give away some 8.5% of Catalonia’s annual GDP to fund services and infrastructure in poorer regions in Spain. The problem is that after such transfers, public services in the poorer parts of Spain have more money per inhabitant than the Catalan ones and basic infrastructure in Catalonia is not built. The Spanish Government has been postponing the new model, despite the territorial tensions and the self-determination demands.

Eduardo Torres-Dulce meeting with Spain's main prosecutors on Wednesday (by ACN)

Spain’s Public Prosecutor Office to finally file complaint against Catalan President for November 9 vote

Despite Catalonia-based prosecutors having concluded that there is no legal basis for such a complaint, the Director of the Public Prosecution Office, Eduardo Torres-Dulce – directly appointed by the Spanish Government – will finally file it, after 10 days of controversy. All the opposition parties have accused the Spanish Government of pressuring Torres-Dulce and taking a political problem to court. In addition, the Catalan Government accuses Rajoy’s People’s Party (PP) of not respecting the separation of powers. On Monday, the Catalan prosecutors announced they were not backing the complaint, but the Madrid-based Director stated he would carry on anyway. On Wednesday, Torres-Dulce held a long meeting with Spain’s main prosecutors, who backed him but not unanimously. The complaint will be against the Catalan President, Artur Mas, but also against the Vice President, Joana Ortega, and the Education Minister, Irene Rigau.

  • The presentation of the 2014 Huddersfield Festival in Barcelona (by R. Vidal)

    Catalan musicians return to Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival

    On Friday, the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival opens in Yorkshire, England, and once again the line-up features many Catalan musicians and composers. This is thanks to an agreement with the Ramon Llull Institute (IRL); the public body promoting Catalan culture abroad. The festival is internationally renowned in the fields of contemporary and experimental music, and aims to create exchanges between artists from different countries. Running until November 30, the festival will also have a presence in Barcelona, through cooperation with the British Council and Barcelona’s L’Auditori concert hall. Carlos Casas, Ferran Fages and Hèctor Parra (who was Huddersfield’s resident composer last year) are some of the Catalan artists that are in this year’s line-up. The festival will begin on Friday with Carlos Casas’ ‘Avalanche’, a track that was released at Barcelona’s music festival Sonar in 2010, and has now hit the UK.

  • A Desigual shop in New York's 5th Avenue (by Desigual)

    Barcelona-based Desigual launches its own stores in Mexico and Canada

    The Catalan fashion multinational Desigual will be strengthening its presence in the Americas over the coming months. In 2015 it will be entering new markets, with the opening of its first three stores in Mexico and three in Montreal, Canada. Its entry into the Aztec country will be made through a franchise, alongside the company El Palacio del Hierro (the Iron Palace) which owns luxury boutiques in Mexico, a market considered a “priority” by Desigual. Thanks to this cooperation, Desigual clothes will be sold in almost 30 different department stores throughout Mexico. In addition the Catalan brand will open its own boutiques in Andares in Guadalajara, Antea in Querétano and in Mexico City. Moreover, Desigual has also committed to strengthening its presence in the US before the end of 2015, with the opening of two new stores, one in Miami and the other in Las Vegas.

  • The BBVA's headquarters in Barcelona (by R. Pagano)

    BBVA forecasts better growth perspectives for Catalonia and 140,000 new jobs in 2014 and 2015

    The Catalan economy’s indicators are posting positive figures and the research department of the BBVA bank has reviewed its growth forecast for Catalonia for the current and the next years. According to the report issued on Thursday by the BBVA, the Catalan economy will grow by 1.3% in 2014 and by 1.8% in 2015, which are higher rates than those initially predicted. On top of this, 140,000 new jobs will be created in those two years, which represents a 4.3% employment growth. In addition, it puts an end to the negative trend that destroyed 17.3% of the existing jobs between 2008 and 2013. The BBVA also praises “the very significant effort” made by the Catalan Government to reduce public deficit in the last few years, although they will not be enough to meet the strict deficit objectives for 2014 and 2015, unilaterally imposed by the Spanish Government.

Highlights

  • The Smart City Expo World Congress kicked off on Monday in Barcelona (by ACN)

    19.11.14 - 22:32

    Barcelona hosts the most international Smart City conference to date: 400 cities from 5 continents

    Between the 18th and the 20th of November, Barcelona is hosting the 4th edition of the Smart City Expo World Congress. This year it will be the most international edition so far, with 400 cities from 5 continents represented, a 33% increase. Participating cities include Berlin, Munich, Boston, Chicago, New York and San Francisco, who are present at the Fira de Barcelona exhibition centre. The goal of...

  • The Spanish Army's main barracks in Barcelona (by ACN)

    18.11.14 - 22:01

    Spanish Army Chief about Catalonia: “when the metropolis is weak”, “the fall takes place”

    The Chief of Spain’s Army Defence Staff, General Jaime Domínguez Buj, was asked on Tuesday about the situation in Catalonia and he has implicitly compared it with a colony. The main General of the Army stated that “when the metropolis is weak” is the time when “the fall takes place”. He added that a “processes” such as Catalonia’s happens “when the central power is weak”, as...

  • Zenith cruise ship in Palamós (by X. Pi)

    18.11.14 - 21:57

    Cruise ships reach ports in cities around Catalonia beyond Barcelona

    Beyond Barcelona, other port cities in Catalonia that are also cruise ship destinations are closing the 2014 season with positive results. The Ports of Palamós and Roses in Girona’s Costa Brava (northern Catalonia), and that of Sant Carles de la Ràpita in the Ebro Delta (south of Tarragona Province) will be closing this season having brought a total of 43,000 passengers on 50 cruise ships. This will have generated a...

  • The Spokesperson for the Catalan Government, Francesc Homs, talking in the press room (by P. Mateos)

    18.11.14 - 21:22

    Catalan President offers to meet Rajoy during his visit to Barcelona

    Furthermore, the Catalan Executive regrets that the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, has not made any political proposal in his answer to the letter sent by the Catalan President, Artur Mas, after November 9’s symbolic vote on independence. Rajoy answered Mas’ letter and highlighted that Spain’s “sovereignty” cannot be negotiated, therefore rejecting the possibility of any discussion about a...

  • The headquarters of the Public Prosecution Office in Barcelona ( by P. Solà)

    18.11.14 - 21:01

    Upheaval in Spain’s Public Prosecution Office over the complaint against Catalan President

    The public prosecutors based in Catalonia refused to back their Madrid-based boss regarding the complaint against the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, and other members of his cabinet for authorising November 9’s symbolic vote on independence. According to them, there are not enough legal reasons for filing such a complaint, despite the pressures from Spanish nationalists to do so. The Director of Spain’s Public...

  • The Spanish PM, Mariano Rajoy, in Brisbane, Australia (by La Moncloa)

    17.11.14 - 22:03

    Rajoy does not back Socialists' Constitutional Reform to better integrate Catalonia

    On Sunday the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) approved another solemn declaration proposing a Constitutional Reform, after it already did so in July 2013. Once again the PSOE has not detailed their proposal, but insists on building a true federal model, going beyond the current Autonomous Community system. The People's Party (PP) – which runs the Spanish Government – opposes such a reform although they "agree to talk" about it....

  • The Quatre Camins prison, in Greater Barcelona (by L. Vilaró)

    17.11.14 - 21:35

    Property developer and former FC Barcelona President, Josep Lluís Núñez, goes to jail for tax fraud

    Josep Lluís Núñez Clemente – aged 83 – and his son – who had been Director of the family company – have been accused of bribing tax inspectors in the 1990s regarding their private business and have entered jail this weekend for a 2 year sentence. Núñez senior chaired FC Barcelona between 1978 and 2000 but his sentence has nothing to do with the famous sports club's activities. After...

  • The Castor offshore platform, in front of Vinaró's coast, near Catalonia's Ebro Delta (by ACN)

    14.11.14 - 20:29

    Catalan Government takes Spain’s €1.35 billion bailout of the failed Castor Project to the Constitutional Court

    On Friday, the Spanish Government approved the €1,350 million compensation to Escal UGS, the company behind the controversial Castor Project, a submarine facility built to store 1.3 billion tonnes worth of gas reserves off the Ebro Delta coast. This project failed after it was found to have caused almost 1,000 small earthquakes. This amount will be financed through increased tariffs to gas consumers over the next 30 years, resulting in...

  • The entrance of Spain's Public Prosecution Office's main building, based in Madrid (by ACN)

    14.11.14 - 20:24

    Public Prosecution Director might not file complaint against Catalan President over independence vote

    After days of controversy, the Director of Spain's Public Prosecution Office, Eduardo Torres-Dulce, suggested that a judicial complaint against the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, might not be filed because the case "is already at court". The People's Party (PP), which runs the Spanish Government, had announced that the Public Prosecution Office would file a complaint against Mas and some Catalan Ministers for having...

  • One of Ai Weiwei's pictures on show in Barcelona (by ACN / Ai Weiwei)

    14.11.14 - 19:58

    Ai Weiwei exhibition opens in Barcelona, from controversial Chinese artist under house arrest

    'On the Table. Ai Weiwei' opened this November at the Virreina Image Centre in Barcelona and will run until 1 February 2015. The exhibition shows the trajectory of the artist’s life through forty pieces, including photographs, videos and installations, some of which were created specially for the gallery in Barcelona. Through various routes, visitors can address the fundamental issues of the work of the controversial Chinese artist...

  • Besides the round of talks, the Catalan Parliament was holding a plenary session on Thursday (by A. Moldes)

    13.11.14 - 21:24

    Catalan President holds round of talks with parties backing self-determination

    As he announced on Tuesday, the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, has begun a round of talks with the leaders of the parties that ran in the last Catalan elections supporting the right to self-determination. Mas aims to gather views and proposals about future scenarios and early elections. This includes the parties that backed the current self-determination process and the organisation of a consultation vote on November 9, by...

  • Fresh frood prices have contributed to a positive annual inflation (by ACN)

    13.11.14 - 21:14

    Prices in Catalonia set a 0.1% annual inflation in October, while Spain’s was -0.1%

    According to figures from the Spanish Institute of Statistics, prices in Catalonia have risen from -0.3% in Octoeber 2013 to an annual inflation rate of 0.1% in October this year, the same as that of September. Inflation has been kept low by falling prices of electricity, while the rising cost of fresh food has prevented negative inflation. In Spain, prices have risen from a -0.6% annual inflation registered 12 months ago to a negative...

  • Catalan President (right) and ERC's leader (left) on Thursday at the Catalan Parliament (by B. Fuentes)

    13.11.14 - 20:20

    Left-wing Catalan independence ERC doesn’t back new budget and pushes for early elections

    The left-wing Catalan independence party ERC, which has shared a parliamentary stability agreement with the governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU for the last 2 years, is pushing to begin a new political period. The ERC’s leader, Oriol Junqueras, met on Thursday with the President of the Catalan Government and CiU’s leader, Artur Mas, and confirmed to him that they will not back the new budget for 2015. The...

  • Presentation of 2014 L'Alternativa independent film festival in Barcelona (by P. Francesch)

    12.11.14 - 23:14

    L’Alternativa independent festival to show films from 45 countries in Barcelona in its 21st edition

    21st edition of the independent film festival l’Alternativa will run from 17 to 23 November in Barcelona. It will show 159 independent films from 45 countries, covering topics such as immigration, identity and collective memory. The festival will be divided into the Official section and the Parallel one. The Official section will feature titles from Romania, Chile, Brazil, Germany, France and Spain, with shorts and feature...

  • The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, before assessing November 9's vote, three days after it took place (by R. Pi de Cabanyes)

    12.11.14 - 20:34

    Rajoy refuses to negotiate self-determination referendum after November 9's massive symbolic vote

    The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, downplayed November 9's participatory process and he totally rejected the opportunity to negotiate the organisation of a mutually-agreed self-determination referendum for Catalonia. After 2.3 million citizens gave their opinion on independence on Sunday, on Wednesday Rajoy spoke in public for the first time and said he considered November 9's non-binding vote to be "a deep failure of the...

  • The Spanish Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, on Tuesday at the Senate (by R. Pi de Cabanyes)

    11.11.14 - 21:01

    Spain will not negotiate "any secession" and might take the Catalan Government to court

    After the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, urged the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, "to sit and talk" about taking the necessary steps to allow Catalans to hold a legal independence referendum, the Spanish Government totally rejected the idea on the same day. On top of this, Spain's Public Prosecutor's Office – whose boss is appointed by the Spanish Justice Minister and directly reports to him – is about...