• 2014 ended with 83,000 less unemployed people in Catalonia than a year ago (by ACN)

    Unemployment in Catalonia ends 2014 with a 19.88% rate and 83,000 less jobseekers than in 2013

    Catalonia posted a 19.88% unemployment rate at the end of 2014, almost 4 percentage points lower than the rate for the whole of Spain, which was 23.70%. On 31 December 2014, there were 756,500 unemployed people in Catalonia, which represents 83,000 less jobseekers than a year ago, according to the Spanish Statistics Institute (INE). Despite the positive annual results, unemployment increased by 30,500 people in quarterly terms, compared to figures from the end of September 2014. Back then, Catalonia's unemployment rate was 19.10%. In terms of jobs, the Catalan economy ended 2014 with 49,300 more people in employment than at the end of 2013, reaching 3,048,100 workers. The Catalan Government is said to be "moderately optimistic" with the figures and highlighted that both 2014 and 2013 ended with less unemployed in annual terms, accumulating two consecutive years of decreased numbers.

Many citizens are outraged about the Castor project (by A. Mayor)

Taxpayers outrage at €1.35 billion bailout of failed Castor Project on Ebro Delta coast

Indignation at the Castor Project has increased due to the €1.35 billion payment issued by the Spanish Government to Escal UGS, the company behind the controversial offshore gas platform. The amount will be charged through gas bills to consumers over the next 30 years, starting on April 2016, making individual citizens pay the private-business bailout, partially funded through €1.4 billion worth of bonds from the European Union. This business project failed after a gas injection caused almost 1,000 small earthquakes in Southern Catalonia and northern Valencia. The Spanish Executive has been forced to compensate the company due to clause 14 of the 2008 Royal Decree, according to which the state would pay for the bailout in the event of the project failing to come to completion. 

The Constitutional Court, based in Madrid (by ACN)

Spanish authorities ban Catalan tax on overall bank deposits, which brought in €680 million in 2014

The Constitutional Court has accepted to debate the Spanish Government's last appeal against the Catalan Executive's tax on bank deposits, which has to be paid by financial entities. Such a decision represents the automatic cancellation of the tax for an initial period of 5 months. Catalonia approved such a measure in December 2012 and two weeks later, the Spanish Government approved its own tax with a 0% rate, so it was 'de facto' cancelling the regional taxes. However, instead of compensating Catalonia for having cancelled the tax – as it is legally obliged to do – the Spanish Government refused to do so, since it argued that the tax had not entered into force yet and took the issue to the Constitutional Court. The Court initially accepted the Spanish Executive's appeal and the tax was temporarily suspended, but in May 2013 it was lifted. In July 2014, the Spanish Government modified the tax with a 0.03% rate and in December it presented a new appeal against the Catalan tax, which brought in some €680 million in 2014.

Catalan Government may post a 2.2% deficit for 2014 (by ACN)

Catalonia predicts 2.2% deficit for 2014, while Spanish Government imposed a 1% target

The Catalan Government is expecting to post a 2.2% deficit for the whole of 2014, corresponding to some €4.41 billion. However, the definitive figure will not be known until March. This is more than  double the 1% deficit target that the Spanish Government unilaterally imposed on the Catalan Executive. Over the last few years, the two governments have quarrelled about deficit targets, since the Spanish Executive is imposing much stricter objectives on the Autonomous Communities than those it allows itself, despite regional governments exclusively managing and funding the basic Welfare State services such as healthcare and education. For instance, for 2014, the Spanish Government only allowed the Autonomous Communities to only have 15% of the whole deficit allowed by the European Union to Spain’s entire public sector, despite managing some 35% of the country’s public funds and basic services.

  • Barça players scored 6 goals against Elche (by FC Barcelona)

    Elche vs FC Barcelona: Barça score six! (0-6)

    Elche fans are no doubt grateful that their team won’t have to play Barça again this season, or indeed this month, as Luis Enrique’s side ran riot at the Manuel Martínez Valero Stadium to chalk up six goals - that’s 15 in the three January games against Fran Escribá’s team. Gerard Piqué opened the scoring in the first half, with Messi and Neymar getting a brace each after the break before Pedro made it a round half dozen in injury time. Next stop, Atlético Madrid on Wednesday night (9.00am CET).

  • Dolors Camats and Joan Josep Nuet a few days ago (by B. Fuentes)

    European Alternative left-wing parties meet in Barcelona at the 1st Southern Europe Forum

    Barcelona plays host this weekend to the 1st Southern Europe Forum, under the slogan '#southrEUvolution'. Politicians from the European Alternative Left-wing parties and the leaders of the main social movements will meet in Catalonia to broaden political alliances. The main objective of the meeting is to create alternative policies for the south of Europe, different to the austerity measures promoted by the Troika. The forum has been promoted by the Catalan Green Socialist and post-Communist coalition ICV-EUiA, with the support of the Spanish United Left Party (IU) and the Greek Alternative Left Party Syriza. At the forum leading MEPs such as Pascal Durand, from the French Green Party and the European Green Party (EGP) co-president Monica Frassoni will also be present.  

  • Alexis Tsipras participated in an ICV-EUiA rally in the last Catalan elections, held in November 2012 (by N. Julià)

    Catalan Green Socialist ICV-EUiA backs Greek party Syriza ahead of Sunday elections

    The Catalan Green Socialist and post-Communist coalition ICV-EUiA has presented the manifesto 'Catalonia with Tsipras' supporting Syriza, the Alternative Left Party that according to the polls could win the upcoming Greek General Election. More than 2,500 people have already signed the document through Change.org. The manifesto states that a clear win for the Alexis Tsipras party would be best for Europeans, in order to "initiate a necessary rebellion" in Southern Europe. The leaders of the main Catalan trade unions and some actors, writers and academics have expressed their support for the text. Barcelona will host a meeting focused on these elections on the 24th of January.  

Highlights

  • Leo Messi scored Barça's only goal against Atlético Madrid (by FC Barcelona)

    22.01.15 - 01:32

    FC Barcelona vs Atlético Madrid: Messi breaks the deadlock (1-0)

    The Argentinean’s 83rd minute goal finally got the better of Atlético’s rock solid defence. Ten days before this Spanish Cup quarter final first leg, Barça danced around Atlético to win 3-1 in La Liga. But Wednesday night’s fixture was more reminiscent of the six meetings between the sides last season. For 83 minutes, the two teams were locked in an intense battle, with their defences shining more than...

  • Cesc Gelabert presenting 'Foot ball' at FC Barcelona's press room (by P. Cortina)

    22.01.15 - 00:07

    Dancer and choreographer Cesc Gelabert creates show with best FC Barcelona moves

    Cesc Gelabert, a dancer and choreographer from Barcelona, premieres Foot-Ball on 22 January at the National Theatre of Catalonia. This show features seven dancers including Gelabert who express the way FC Barcelona play on stage. Foot-ball features costume by Lydia Azzopardi and audiovisual creations by Jordi Morató. The choreography will be a dialogue with these audiovisuals that will show the best...

  • The Catalan Parliament celebrating the approval of the Val d'Aran's new status (by P. Mateos)

    21.01.15 - 21:09

    Catalonia approves special status for Occitan Val d’Aran, including its right to self-determination

    The Catalan Parliament approved on Wednesday the Law on the Val d’Aran’s special status within Catalonia, recognising its “Occitan national reality” and its right to self-determination. This small Pyrenean valley, surrounded by high peaks and located in Catalonia’s north-western corner, is the last land where the Occitan language is widely spoken, although it is called Aranese there. The Val d’Aran County...

  • Representatives of the Catalan Government explaining details of BCN World's urban planning (by ACN)

    21.01.15 - 17:55

    BCN World casino, hotel and entertainment resort to have 25-storey towers near PortAventura

    The Catalan Government presented this week a first draft of the urban plan that is developing for the 800 hectares surrounding PortAventura theme park, in the Costa Daurada, near Tarragona. The $6 billion holiday resort BCN World is supposed to be built in this area, which is now being promoted by the Catalan Executive itself after the private investor Veremonte did not meet the final deadline for buying the land in December. The urban plan...

  • Suárez, Messi and Neymar celebrating Barça's second goal after Atlético Madrid at the Spanish League (by FC Barcelona)

    21.01.15 - 17:00

    FC Barcelona face Atlético Madrid in Spanish Cup quarter-final first leg

    Just 10 days after their last meeting at the Camp Nou, Barça and Atlético Madrid face each other once again on Wednesday night at 10.00pm (CET) in the first leg of the Spanish Cup quarter-finals. Lifted by their performance in the 3-1 win last time out, Luis Enrique’s team have hit a good patch of form as they go into the match. However, the boss is well aware of the danger Atlético pose, warning at his pre-match...

  • A citizen participation point set up through an AOC programme last spring in Avià, in Central Catalonia (by L. Busquets)

    21.01.15 - 00:58

    First Digital Government Congress promotes a public administration “closer” to citizens

    The 1st Digital Government Congress organised by the Catalan Government and the Open Administration of Catalonia consortium (AOC) will take place on Wednesday and Thursday at the Palau de Congressos de Fira de Barcelona. The main aim of this summit is to develop through the use of new technologies the public administration into an “open and innovative administration” that will be smarter, more efficient and effective in order to...

  • One of Grimaldi's ferry (by Grimaldi)

    21.01.15 - 00:40

    New ferry connects Barcelona and Savona

    This January, Grimaldi, the multinational logistics group specialised in maritime transport for major vehicle manufacturers’ world suppliers, has launched a new ferry called the “Florencia” to connect the Catalan capital and Savona, an Italian port located about 50km west of Genoa. This investment allows the company to double the frequency between the two harbours. The brand new “Florencia” is 186m long and...

  • The Spanish Finance Minister, Cristóbal Montoro, a few weeks ago at the Spanish Parliament (by ACN)

    20.01.15 - 23:53

    Catalonia requests €9.46 billion in loans from Spanish Government’s Liquidity Fund for 2015

    The Catalan Government has formally requested €9.46 billion in loans from the Liquidity Fund for the Autonomous Communities (FLA), run by the Spanish Finance Ministry, to face debt payments and other obligations during 2015. This is the only way that the Spanish Government authorises the Catalan Executive to request liquidity as it has banned Catalonia’s access to financial markets to obtain additional funds, as many governments...

  • A table collecting signatures backing the international complaint on 9 November (by ACN)

    19.01.15 - 23:50

    1.4 million Catalans signed international complaint against Rajoy for banning self-determination vote

    The document will be sent to the United Nations, the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The Spanish Government “violates the Catalan people’s right to decide its own political future and bans the exercise of democracy through a referendum or an internationally standardised consultation vote”, reads the complaint, signed by...

  • The Catalan Finance Minister, Andreu Mas-Colell (left), and the ERC MP, Pere Aragonès (by M. Fernández Noguera)

    19.01.15 - 22:01

    Left-wing pro-independence ERC paves the way for Catalan Government’s 2015 budget

    Following the agreement reached last week between the President of the Catalan Government and leader of the governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU, Artur Mas, and the President of the left-wing pro-independence party ERC, Oriol Junqueras, on calling early elections in September as a plebiscite on Catalonia’s independence from Spain, the Catalan Executive’s budget for 2015 is now closer to definitive approval. On...

  • Lluís Pasqual (left) and Núria Espert (right) presenting their King Lear (by P. Cortina)

    19.01.15 - 19:55

    Top Catalan actress Núria Espert plays King Lear in its adaptation at Barcelona’s Teatre Lliure

    Núria Espert, one of the most international and widely recognised theatre actresses in Catalonia, has taken on the role of Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’ at the age of 79. This challenging project also means her return to the Catalan theatre scene after spending the last few years working on the Spanish stage. Lluís Pascual, the Director of the Catalan theatrical adaptation, justified the decision, stating...

  • The 'Tres Tombs' parade at Vilanova i la Geltrú (by Pau Rodríguez)

    19.01.15 - 19:08

    The ‘Tres Tombs’, tradition when horses and carriages take to the streets of Catalan cities

    On 17th of January, horses, ponies and donkeys, along with carriages, take to the streets of many cities in Catalonia to celebrate the ‘Tres Tombs’ parade (which would read as ‘Three Laps’). This tradition is in honor of Saint Anthony Abad, the patron saint of animals. Vilanovai la Geltrú, a coastal town 50km south of Barcelona, is one of the places where this festivity is lived to the fullest by...

  • Marc Coma during the Dakar 2015 (Copyright A.S.O / DPPI / F. Le Floch)

    19.01.15 - 17:40

    Catalan riders Marc Coma and Laia Sanz make history at Dakar 2015

    Two Catalan drivers made history this weekend at the end of the Dakar Rally 2015. Motorbike rider Marc Coma won his fifth Dakar, equalling the five titles of French drivers Cyril Neveu and Cyril Despres. Coma has become the second driver with the most triumphs in the category, just one victory less than Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel. Rider Laia Sanz finished ninth, the best position for a woman of all time. In addition, Catalonia...

  • Leo Messi scored his 30th hat-trick (by FC Barcelona)

    19.01.15 - 15:45

    Deportivo la Coruña v FC Barcelona: Pure gold from Messi (0-4)

    The Argentinean scored his second consecutive hat-trick at Deportivo’s Riazor stadium in a 4-0 win – Sidnei putting the ball in his own net for the fourth. Riazor was silenced by yet another stunning display from Leo Messi. Just like he did the last time he visited the Deportivo stadium, the Argentinean found the net three times as Barça collected three hugely important points to maintain the pressure on Spanish league...

  • The Spanish Deputy PM, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría (left), and the Minister for Employment, Fátima Báñez (by R. Pi de Cabanyes)

    16.01.15 - 18:04

    Spanish Government accuses Catalan President of calling early elections “to hide his ineffectiveness”

    The Spanish Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, strongly criticised the calling of early elections in Catalonia, announced by the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, for 27 September as a ‘de facto’ plebiscite on independence. Sáenz de Santamaría stated that such a call shows Mas’ “failure” and his “incapacity” to run a government. She also said...

  • The Catalan President, Artur Mas, being interviewed by the privately-owned radio station Rac 1 (by R. Garrido)

    16.01.15 - 17:44

    Catalan President: “a clear absolute majority” is needed for creation of new independent state

    The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, insisted on Friday that “a clear absolute majority” will be needed for the pro-independence parties in the early elections scheduled for 27 September to make the world understand that the creation of a new independent state must be negotiated. In a radio interview, Mas explained that the road map towards independence - if there is an electoral majority - is still being...