Catalan President tells all Government Ministers and Directors that self-determination vote will take place

September 2, 2014 07:06 PM | ACN

The President of Catalonia, Artur Mas, held an exceptional meeting on Monday evening with all the Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Directors of the Government he chairs in order to prepare for the coming weeks, which are crucial in the self-determination process. Mas told the 200 people present about "his certainty" that "there will be a consultation vote, that he will call it and that people will vote", summed up Francesc Homs, Minister for the Presidency and Spokesperson for the Executive, at the end of the meeting. The President asked them to be "committed" and play "a leading role" within the self-determination vote instead of being "mere spectators or commenters", since "the country is ready". "Obviously this [the self-determination vote] is an operation including the entire country, and a lot of people, but the Government is also part of it in a very essentials way, and he asked us to honour this in such decisive times", added Homs.

FC Barcelona to face PSG, Ajax and Apoel at the Champions League group stage

August 29, 2014 10:25 AM

FC Barcelona learned on Thursday evening that their 2014/15 Champions League bid will commence in Group F, which they’ll share with Paris Saint Germain, Ajax Amsterdam and Apoel Nicosia, the respective league champions of France, Holland and Cyprus. The winners of the last two editions of French Ligue 1 last faced FC Barcelona in the Champions League quarter finals two years ago. Barça and Ajax had never met each other in a competitive match until they were paired together in the group stages of last season’s Champions League. Finally, this will be the first ever meeting between Barça and the most successful side in Cypriot football history, APOEL, who famously made it all the way to the Champions League quarter finals two years ago.

Catalonia leads the way in foreign tourist spending between January and July in Spain

August 27, 2014 09:28 PM | ACN

Catalonia is at the forefront of international tourist spending within Spain in the first seven months of this year with €8.151million, a 5.3% increase over the same period of last year, according to the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism. In Spain as a whole, international tourists spent €34.497 million between January and July, a 7% interannual increase from 2013 and the highest ever figure recorded in this period. Catalonia also accounted for 23.6% of the total figure for Spain during this period of the year.

Catalan Government insists in its "unequivocal commitment" to November self-determination vote

August 26, 2014 09:40 PM | ACN

"The time for speculation is over; now it is time for decisions, and this goes for everybody", stated the Spokesperson for the Catalan Government and Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, after the first Cabinet Meeting held after the summer break. Homs was referring to the Spanish Prime Minister's monolithic opposition to the self-determination vote and to the warning sent by the leader of the left-wing independence party ERC, Oriol Junqueras. The ERC President "cannot imagine" somebody "breaking the enormous unity" around the independence consultation vote, scheduled for the 9th of November, which is "the only scenario" agreed on.  Homs insisted in the Catalan Government's "unequivocal commitment" to such a vote. However, he rejected making any speculation on how Catalan authorities should react "to things that have not passed", referring to the likely ban from the Spanish Constitutional Court to the November vote. "We are entering a new stage", he concluded.

Catalan exports in June grow by 0.1% while Spain's drop by 1.2%

August 19, 2014 08:18 PM | ACN

Exports from Catalonia between January and June 2014 reached €29,769.5 million, which represent a 1.8% increase compared to the same period last year. They also represented 24.9% of Spain's total exports, which reached €119,265 million, a 0.5% growth on the previous year's figures. However, despite growing at a slower pace, Spain's total exports posted a new historical record since comparable figures started to be registered in 1971. Considering just the June figures, the export sector seemed to be affected by the negative economic figures from France and Germany. Catalan exports only grew by 0.1% in June compared to the figures registered in the same month of 2013, while Spain's total exports during the first sixth months of the year decreased by 1.2%.

Tax and judicial authorities send the first enquiries to former Catalan President Jordi Pujol

August 8, 2014 08:55 PM | ACN

On Friday the Spanish Tax Agency delivered a summons to the historical leader of Catalan nationalism, Jordi Pujol, who confessed two weeks ago that his family had non-declared money from his father's inheritance in fiscal paradises for more than 35 years. Also on Friday, the Barcelona judge investigating the case requested that Pujol hand in his father's last will and the document accepting the inheritance. In addition, the judge sent petitions to Andorra and Switzerland for financial information about Pujol, his wife and his 7 children. Several media outlets have reported that 4 of Pujol's sons could have fortunes abroad, allegedly out of tax control and coming from corrupt activities. Meanwhile, the person who chaired the Catalan Government between 1980 and 2003 and was essential in Spain's democratic transition and modern history, has been cast out of the party he founded (CDC) and has had all his official honours, pension and office taken away from him.

OGC Nice v FC Barcelona: A hard worked draw (1-1)

August 3, 2014 11:42 AM | Jordi Clos

FC Barcelona drew away to Olympique Nice in their second preseason friendly on Saturday evening. They travelled there straight from Birmingham, where the Catalan team undertook a 6-day training stay. There were plenty of signs that things are coming together for FC Barcelona in Nice's wonderful Allianz Riviera. Xavi pulled level with a second half penalty after Nice had taken the lead, also from the spot. Barça players were always in control and could easily have gone on to win the game, had there been a little more luck on their side.

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

July 28, 2014 09:35 PM | ACN

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 been the historical leader of the conservative Catalan nationalists. Parties supporting self-determination have distanced themselves from Pujol, including CDC, the Liberal party he founded in 1974 during Franco's dictatorship that now runs the Catalan Government. It is expected that Jordi Pujol (84) will resign as CDC's Founding President in the next few hours. His confession comes after his family and particularly two of his sons have been targeted by the media and judicial investigations for corruption since 2012.

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

July 23, 2014 05:50 PM | ACN

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.

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

July 18, 2014 08:27 PM | ACN

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, Criteria stated its intention to allocate part of the money received from the purchase of Suez Environnement shares in the stock market, aiming to achieve, depending on market conditions, a 7% stake in Suez Environnement, a company which currently controls 75.35% of Agbar.

Catalan President accepts to meet with Rajoy this July in public, but would prefer a discrete meeting

July 15, 2014 06:31 PM | ACN

The Catalan Minister for the Presidency and Government Spokesperson Francesc Homs, said on Tuesday that the President of the Generalitat, Artur Mas, is willing to accept the meeting formula proposed by the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy. Spain's PM rejected a discrete meeting and insisted it should be public, despite the fact the Catalan President had requested a private interview. Nonetheless, Homs said it would be better, "and overwhelming common sense", to hold the meeting in private, without the media focus on it, because that would allow it to be  "more productive." "But if it cannot be this way, we will do as they want," Homs said at a press conference, and insisted that the interview format will pose “no problems.”

Catalan and Basque MEPs urge Schulz to allow the use of their languages in the plenary

July 2, 2014 06:20 PM | ACN

The MEPs from the Centre-Right pro-Catalan State (CiU), Ramon Tremosa and Francesc Gambús, and the MEP from the Basque Nationalist Party (PNB), Izaskun Bilbao, wrote to the re-elected President of the European Parliament stating that the use of Catalan, Basque and Galician languages in the plenary just depends on a “political decision”. The MEPs asked the leader of the Chamber, a former bookshop owner, to show “respect” for their languages. Tremosa, Gambús and Bilbao said that the decision would cost nothing to the European Parliament as many Spanish translators also speak Catalan, Basque or Galician.

Catalan human towers demand a self-determination vote in London, Berlin, Paris, Geneva, Rome, Lisbon and Brussels

June 8, 2014 01:08 PM | ACN

Civil-society organisations from Catalonia have simultaneously built a traditional human tower, on Sunday 8 June at 12 o'clock (CET), in Berlin, Brussels, Geneva, London, Lisbon, Paris, Rome and Barcelona, as well as in 41 additional Catalan towns, to claim for the right of self-determination. "Catalans want to vote. Human towers for democracy" is the banner shown at the action, which ended with a manifesto read by famous personalities such as Paul Preston, Jordi  Savall and Pep Guardiola. This large-scale action taking place in almost 50 different locations  throughout Catalonia and the rest of Europe has been organised by the civil-society association Òmnium Cultural and has been exclusively funded via private donations and membership fees. 71 'castellers' groups, who are those building the traditional human towers (called 'castells' in Catalan) have participated in the action, which represent 85% of the existing 'castellers' associations.

“Every nation seeks a friendly State”, states Catalan Minister in a self-determination debate at Geneva University

June 6, 2014 10:24 PM | ACN

The University of Geneva hosted on Friday a debate on the future of Catalonia and the question of self-determination, in the first activity of the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (Diplocat) in Switzerland. The event, organised by the Global Studies Institute of the University of Geneva in collaboration with the Swiss daily newspaper 'Le Temps', was attended by more than 150 people, who actively participated in the debate. Guest speakers included Francesc Homs, Catalan Minister for the Presidency Office and Spokesperson for the Government of Catalonia, Mercè Barceló, Chair of Constitutional Law at the Universitat Autònoma of Barcelona (UAB), and the Director of the Global Studies Institute, Nicolas Levrat.

Catalan Government feels “stronger” after the European elections and asks Rajoy to talk

May 27, 2014 11:43 PM | ACN

The Spokesperson for the Catalan Executive, Francesc Homs, today stated that the results of the European elections and the turnout increase in Catalonia make the ruling cabinet feel “stronger”. “It is clear that the political project managed [by the Catalan Government] has great support”, he said. The centre-right pro-Catalan state coalition Convergència i Unió (CiU), which runs the Executive, increased its support by 100,000 additional votes compared to the 2009 elections, although its percentage of the vote did drop slightly from 22.4% to 21.9% due to a higher turnout. Overall, parties supporting this November’s independence vote obtained more than 55% of the votes cast, while those totally opposed to self-determination lost out, receiving less than 16% of the votes. For this reason, Homs asked the Spanish PM, Mariano Rajoy, to start talking again about how to authorise a self-determination vote.