• The Spanish Finance Minister, Cristóbal Montoro (left), and the Catalan one, Andreu Mas-Colell (right) in the CPFF of July 2014 (by ACN)

    Catalan Government will not meet 1% deficit target for 2014, imposed by Spanish Executive

    On Thursday, the Catalan Finance Minister, Andreu Mas-Colell, admitted that Catalonia will not be able to meet the strict 1% deficit target imposed by the Spanish Government for 2014. In fact, the Catalan Executive had previously warned on several occasions that this deficit target was not realistic, despite the great austerity efforts undertaken over the past four years. In addition, despite Spain's economic recovery of 2014 – which is led by Catalonia – and therefore the increase of taxable activity, the Spanish Government will reduce the Catalan executive's funds by €500 million this year while the deficit target becomes stricter. On Wednesday, the Catalan President, Artur Mas, already stated that, considering the austerity measures adopted since 2011, further budget cuts cannot be undertaken in 2014 without dramatically damaging basic public services such as healthcare and education. Instead of relaxing the deficit target or transferring pending funds and debts to the Catalan Government, the Spanish Finance Ministry will reduce the interest rate that the Autonomous Communities have to pay back to 1% for the loans of the Liquifidity Fund (FLA).

The Spanish PM (left) and the Catalan President (right) before their meeting (by G. Sanz de Sandoval)

Rajoy doesn't offer an alternative and Catalan President will call self-determination vote anyway

The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, and the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, finally met this Wednesday in Madrid to talk about the self-determination process and also about economic, social and institutional issues. Mas told Rajoy that a majority of the Catalan Parliament plans to hold a self-determination vote on the 9th of November and they want to do it "reaching an agreement with the Spanish Government and within the legal framework". However, if Rajoy rejects negotiating such an agreement, Mas will use the Catalan legal framework to organise a legal vote. Rajoy emphasised that the consultation vote "is not legal and will not be legal" and therefore "will not take place". However, the Spanish PM did not present any alternatives to modify the current status quo. Besides, Mas presented Rajoy with a document with 23 issues not related to self-determination, such as Catalonia's under-budgeted public services, pending infrastructure works, and the Education Reform.

Almirall headquarters in Barcelona (by ACN)

Catalan pharmaceutical Almirall sells its respiratory subsidiary to AstraZeneca for €1.56 billion

On Wednesday the Catalan pharmaceutical company Almirall announced that they have sold the rights to their respiratory subsidiary to the British-Swedish company AstraZeneca for the initial value of €653 million ($875 million), to be paid when signing the deal. Then, further payments could reach up to an additional €910 million ($1.22 billion), depending on the AstraZeneca's success in product development, new product launches and sales. This news comes after Almirall announced a €19.1 million net profit in the first two quarters of this year, an 8.5% increase from the same period last year. With this new operation it is expected that "a significant number" of employees from the Catalan company's respiratory subsidiary will be transferred to AstraZeneca.

Cata's showroom in Torelló (by ACN)

Catalan company Cata buys bankrupt domestic appliance business Fagor

The Basque domestic appliance company Fagor Electrodomésticos, which declared bankruptcy in November 2013, has been bought by the Catalan company Cata. On Tuesday the Mercantile Court Number 1 in San Sebastian awarded Fagor's assets to the Catalan domestic appliance company for the price of €42.5 million, €14.5 million more than was offered by the Algerian company, Cevital. Cata offer covered all of the bankrupt divisions of the Basque cooperative and pledged to create 705 direct jobs, as well as ensuring the continuity of the brand names Fagor, Edesa, Aspes and Splendid. Cata stated that the purchase of Fagor was important because it will create "industrial synergies" between the two companies.

A general overview of Barça's Camp Nou Stadium (by FC Barcelona)

FC Barcelona posts a record income of 530 million euros for the 2013/14 season

FC Barcelona's Economic Vice President, Javier Faus, has given a press conference on Tuesday to review the 2013/14 finances, revealing that the Catalan club has made its second highest profit ever of €41 million a figure previously only topped by the 49 million euros in the 2011/12 season. Furthermore, Barça posted a record income of €530 million. Faus also explained that in the four seasons since 2010/11, when the new Board came into power, the club has an accumulated profit of €113 million. In addition, The 2013/14 season also witnessed a reduction in the net debt by 44 million euros, meaning that since the new Board took over, this figure has decreased by 143 million, and as of June 30 of this year now stands at 287 million euros, while four years ago it was 431 million.

  • One of Grifols' labs in Parets del Vallès, in Greater Barcelona (by ACN)

    Catalan pharmaceutical giant Grifols sees a 23% jump in net profit in the first half of 2014

    During the first half of the year, the revenues of the Catalan multinational pharmaceutical company Grifols rose by 16.7% to €1.61 bilion, 75% of which came from the Bioscience division and 18% from Diagnostic. Compared to the first quarter, the proportion of total sales generated by each of the group’s divisions remains unchanged after the acquisition of Novartis' diagnostic business. The world´s third-largest blood-derivate product maker, Grifols obtained a net profit of €224.8 million, 23% more compared with the same period last year, as reported by the company to the Spanish Stock Exchange Authority (CNMV). These positive figures were achieved due to the maintenance of financial costs, made possible by improved financial conditions, despite having increased debt in absolute terms.

  • The Barcelona-based researcher, Pedro Alonso (by ACN)

    Barcelona-based Professor Pedro Alonso named Director of the WHO Global Malaria Program

    On Wednesday the World Health Organisation (WHO) appointed Barcelona-based researcher Pedro Alonso as the new Director of its Global Malaria Program. Alonso is a key figure in the global fight against malaria and has lead research into a vaccine to combat the life-threatening illness. He has been involved with WHO since 2011, when the organisation appointed him as the Chair of the GTS Steering Committee on the Global Technical Strategy on Malaria. Alonso is currently the Director of the Barcelona Institute for International Health Research. He is also the Head of the Department of International Health and Tropical Medicine at Barcelona's Hospital Clínic and a lecturer at Barcelona University. The physician is due to start his new position in October and is expected to give his formal recommendation on the strategy against malaria in the first quarter of 2015.

  • A relaxed atmosphere in Barcelona's Sala Montjuic open air cinema festival (by Rebecca Lock)

    Over 30,000 people are estimated to attend open air film festival in Barcelona this summer

    The 12th Edition of Sala Montjuïc, an open air film festival which takes place every summer in Barcelona, is in full swing, and organisers estimate that over 30,000 people will have attended the event by the end of its five week running period. The festival runs from the 6th of July to the 8th of August and hosts evenings of live music, short films and feature length movies three times a week. An average of 2,000 spectators a night attend the screenings, which are located next to an old military castle on Montjuïc, a small hill facing Barcelona's harbour. Families can rent deckchairs, bring food and drink and enjoy watching the film whilst seated on the lawn alongside the castle's wall, in what used to be the ancient moat. This year one of the highlights included a special screening of the 1927 German classic Metropolis on the 18th of July which was accompanied by a live jazz band.

Highlights

  • The Catalan President, Artur Mas, announcing the measures to take away Pujol's benefits and honours (by J. Bataller)

    29.07.14 - 21:04

    Former Catalan President Jordi Pujol gives up all his benefits and will face a parliamentary committee

    The historical leader of conservative Catalan nationalism, Jordi Pujol, who chaired the Catalan Government between 1980 and 2003, has been forced to give up all his honorary titles, his pension and his office as former President due to the fiscal fraud to which he confessed on Friday. Furthermore, all the opposition parties demanded that Pujol provide further explanations to the Catalan Parliament. The veteran politician explained that he...

  • A beach in Tarragona (by ACN)

    28.07.14 - 21:38

    Foreign tourists spent €6 billion in Catalonia during the first half of 2014, 4% more than last year's same period

    International tourists spent €5.986 billion in Catalonia during the first six months of the year. This represents a 3.9% increase on the same period of 2013. Furthermore, it is also 22.7% of the total foreign tourist expenditure in Spain for this period. Catalonia is the second Autonomous Community where foreign visitors spent more money during the first half of 2014. The Canaries came first with an expenditure of €6.069...

  • Jordi Pujol in a press conference a few months ago (by ACN)

    28.07.14 - 21:35

    Jordi Pujol's fiscal fraud becomes a threat for self-determination process

    Catalan politics and society are shocked after Jordi Pujol, President of the Catalan Government between 1980 and 2003, confessed on Friday evening that his family had €4 million in Andorra for 35 years which had never been declared to the tax authorities. Madrid-based media and politicians have immediately linked Pujol's scandal to Catalonia's self-determination with the aim to delegitimise the process since the retired politician had...

  • An image from Tortosa's Renaissance Festival (by ACN)

    28.07.14 - 21:04

    Tortosa recreates the Renaissance with its annual international festival

    From Thursday to Sunday the 19th edition of Tortosa's Renaissance Festival attracted more than 200,000 visitors from all over Europe, who filled the city located in the Ebro Delta area in southern Catalonia. The Mayor of Tortosa, Ferran Bel, emphasised the consolidation of the festival  and the high participation numbers with many international visitors, including foreign tourists and participating companies, such as theatre...

  • The first firework night in Blanes' International Competition (by A. Recolons)

    25.07.14 - 15:13

    Blanes' International Fireworks Competition gathers 100,000 people in its opening night

    Blanes' annual International Fireworks Competition (Costa Brava), which this year celebrates its 44th edition, started on Thursday night, attracting more than 100,000 people to watch the show, according to initial estimates by the Mayor of the Catalan coastal town,Josep Marigó. The event was supervised by pyrotechnic and three-time festival winner, Tomás de Castelló. The competition, which will run until...

  • CaixaBank's headquarters, located in Barcelona's Diagonal Avenue (by ACN)

    25.07.14 - 15:09

    CaixaBank registers a net profit of €305 million during the first half of 2014, 25% less than last year

    Barcelona-based CaixaBank, which leads the Spain's banking market, registers a net attribute profit of €305 million during the first half of 2014. This is 25.3% less than 2013 and it is due to extraordinary operations such as the costs of totally integrating Banc de València and the effects of 2012 regulatory regarding the restructuring of toxic real estate assets. Apart from that, the profit attributable to the banking and...

  • A lab of Irsi Caixa (by Irsi Caixa)

    25.07.14 - 12:32

    Catalonia, a hub of global biomedical research

    Catalonia has established a reputation as a global centre of scientific excellence, pioneering research and innovative ideas. This corner of Europe, with just 0.1% of the world’s population, accounts for nearly 1% of global scientific production. The Catalan Research system, formed of 12 internationally esteemed universities, over 60 research centres, 15 world class hospitals, and almost 9,000 innovative companies, attests to the...

  • A bar in Girona (by ACN)

    24.07.14 - 21:37

    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...

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

    24.07.14 - 21:33

    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...

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

    24.07.14 - 21:31

    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...

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

    23.07.14 - 21:34

    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...

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

    23.07.14 - 21:32

    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...

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

    23.07.14 - 17:50

    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...

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

    23.07.14 - 17:49

    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....

  • 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...

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

    23.07.14 - 17:19

    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...