• The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, in the press conference held before the summer break (by Moncloa)

    Spanish PM admits that Catalonia's self-determination is not affecting the economy

    Mariano Rajoy, Spain's Prime Minister, admitted that he "does not know what will happen on the 9th of November", the day on which a majority of Catalan parties agreed upon for holding a self-determination vote, which goes against the Spanish Government's will. However, Rajoy immediately added that the Catalan President, Artur Mas, told him that "he will not be doing anything illegal", in their Wednesday meeting. The Spanish establishment considers such a vote to be illegal while a few constitutional experts say that such a vote could take place if there was the political will to authorise it. A two-third majority of the Catalan Parliament is determined to use Catalonia's legal framework to call a legal vote. Besides, in the press conference held on the Friday before his holidays, Rajoy also admitted that the self-determination debate is not affecting the economy. However, he added that any step generating "uncertainty or doubts" will "not help" the economic recovery.

Renovation works in Barcelona's L2 metro line in 2012 (by G. Sánchez)

Barcelona's Metro Line 2 to remain closed between the 4th and 24th of August

Barcelona's Metro L2 will be affected by renovation work from next Monday the 4th of August till Sunday the 24th of August. The stretch between Passeig de Gràcia and Clot metro stations will be closed due to the improvement of the railway's mechanical condition. According to the Catalan Ministry of Planning and Sustainability, the partial suspension of the metro service was planned for this August in order to minimise disruptions to travellers, since during this period the demand for urban mobility is lower. However, during the closure of the affected L2 stretch, other public transport alternatives will be provided to customers.

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).

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.

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.

  • The presentation of the 'V' pro-independence demonstration (by P. Mateos)

    The 3rd massive Catalan independence demonstration will be backed by events abroad

    The Catalan National Assembly, a grass-roots organisation, and Òmnium Cultural, a non-profit association promoting Catalan culture, are behind the massive independence demonstrations of 2012, 2013 and 2014, and in July they presented their new campaign 'Now it's time, united for a new country'. They aimed to mobilize the Catalan people for the self-determination vote scheduled on November the 9th. There will be events throughout Catalonia and abroad during the 2 months before Catalonia’s National Day (September the 11th). On that day, a massive demonstration in the shape of a giant V, for 'Votar' (To Vote) and 'Victòria' (Victory), will take place in Barcelona, which is expected to become the largest rally in the Catalonia's history. In addition, more than 30 ANC groups abroad are organising a worldwide campaign #votecatalonia. The political marketing firm Blue State Digital, which managed Obama's digital campaigns, is involved in the initiative.

  • The President of Barcelona's Chamber of Commerce, Miquel Valls, presenting the report (by J. Molina)

    Catalan economic recovery accelerates even faster in the second quarter and posts a 1.3% annual growth

    The pace of the Catalan economic recovery is "accelerating" according to Miquel Valls, the President of Barcelona's Chamber of Commerce. This is especially apparent in the second quarter of this year, which saw the interannual GDP grow by 1.3%, compared to the 0.4% growth registered in the first quarter of 2014. This rapid acceleration will oblige the Chamber to review in its autumn report its economic forecasts for Catalonia in 2014 and 2015, which are currently set at 1.2% and 1.5% respectively. Although there is still uncertainty to exactly what shape the new economic climate will take, the new predictions of growth could be above 1.5% for 2014 and 2% in 2015, indicated Valls.

  • The dance show 'Sun' by Hofesh Shechter (by Gabriele Zucca)

    Barcelona's performing arts summer festival Grec attracts 80,000 spectators, filling 58% of the potential capacity

    This year's edition of Barcelona's performing arts summer festival, Grec, attracted around 80,000 spectators and achieved a 58.15% capacity utilisation in the shows which require payment. According to provisional statistics, taken before the event was over, for the 79 shows that made up the summer festival there were 136,291 seats available and 67,623 tickets were sold, filling 49.61% of the potential capacity. However, overall there was total of 79,254 spectators. Last year 66,466 people attended the shows which required payment and 55,766 tickets were sold. The total number of spectators who attended the festival this year, both paying customers and those who went to free shows, amounted to 127,471 people, whilst in 2013 there were 119,000 individuals.

Highlights

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

    31.07.14 - 21:27

    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...

  • Almirall headquarters in Barcelona (by ACN)

    30.07.14 - 21:33

    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...

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

    30.07.14 - 21:29

    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...

  • 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...

  • Cata's showroom in Torelló (by ACN)

    29.07.14 - 21:01

    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...

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

    29.07.14 - 15:13

    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...

  • 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...