The Institut Català de Finances (ICF) to be transformed into Catalonia’s public bank

October 23, 2013 11:23 AM | ACN

The Catalan Government approves a decree to transform the Catalan Institute of Finance (ICF) into a publicly-owned bank to support business and particularly SMEs. With this change, the Catalan Executive’saim is “to strengthen the ICF’s role as a tool to support business and the productive economy”, as the Government’s Spokesperson, Francesc Homs, told the press on Tuesday. The measure is part of the Parliamentary Stability Agreement signed between the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) and the governing Centre-Right Catalan Nationalism Coalition (CiU).

The Spanish Government vetoes the Catalan President in a Euro-Mediterranean forum in Barcelona

October 22, 2013 09:10 PM | ACN

The tension between the Spanish and the Catalan Executives is increasing. The Spanish Government refused to allow the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, to deliver a short welcoming speech to the participants of the First Economic Forum of the Western Mediterranean. This event will take place in Barcelona on Wednesday, within the headquarters of the Union for the Mediterranean Secretariat (UFM), a building owned by the Catalan Government. It will bring together 10 Ministers of Foreign Affairs and it will be part of the 5+5 Dialogue, which is formed by 5 EU Member States and 5 North African countries. The Spanish PM, Mariano Rajoy, will chair the meeting and he only allowed Mas to come as a part of his delegation, Mas will be permitted to join the meeting but not to speak. In similar meetings, presidents of other Spanish Autonomous Communities, including Catalonia, have been allowed to address participants.

The Spanish Government announces in October that €1.7 billion will not be transferred to the Catalan Executive this year

October 15, 2013 09:50 PM | ACN

The Catalan Government will receive €1.7 billion less from the Spanish Liquidity Fund (FLA) in 2013 than had been previously foreseen. The news was announced by the Spanish Government in mid-October, with only 10 weeks left before the end of the year. Madrid has justified the decision by linking the FLA to the plan to lend money to public bodies in order to enable them to pay suppliers. The money to pay suppliers will now be deducted from the FLA, changing the previous conditions. As a consequence, the Catalan Government will not be able to fund the 1.58% deficit it had allowed, since the FLA is its only access to liquidity. Now, Catalonia will only have money for the previously-foreseen 0.7% deficit. The Catalan Executive feels “tricked” as “it is not understandable that the Spanish Government agrees to a greater deficit and later cannot fund this deficit”.

German multinational GFT CEO, Ulrich Dietz: “Catalonia is one of our preferred places to invest”

October 3, 2013 10:06 PM | ACN / Laura Pous / Albert Segura

The founder and CEO of technology company GFT announced that they will create 500 new jobs in Catalonia in the coming years. In an exclusive interview with the CNA, Ulrich Dietz, stated that he has “aggressive plans to increase the staff” in Greater Barcelona and Lleida. GFT  specialises in developing technological solutions for the banking and insurance sectors, with a turnover of €231 million in 2012. With several offices in Germany, the company is based in Stuttgart and is present in Brazil, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, US and UK. A quarter of GFT employees throughout the world are based in Catalonia. Most of them work in Greater Barcelona, which is the company’s “hub” for the European market. Dietz explained that he has plans to develop Lleida’s facilities, which currently employ 40 people, “significantly”.

The European Commission will only give a definitive answer on Catalonia’s EU membership on the basis of “a precise scenario”

September 18, 2013 09:29 PM | ACN

The European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, Michel Barnier, repeated on Wednesday the answer given by Romano Prodi on a question about Algeria and its hypothetical EU membership on the basis of its French past: “if a region separates itself from a Member State, it quits de facto the European Union”. Barnier emphasised that this is a “general” opinion. However, he added that the European Commission will only issue its definitive opinion about an independent Catalonia on the basis of “a precise scenario” and refuses to “speculate” about the Catalan case. Besides, the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, affirmed that questioning Catalonia’s “economic integration within the EU” follows “controversies stirred up by interested parties”.

The Catalan Government stresses that no treaty says that an independent Catalonia would be out of the European Union

September 17, 2013 09:20 PM | ACN

The Catalan Presidency Minister, Francesc Homs, answered the statement made by the Spanish Vice President of the European Commission, Joaquín Almunía, which was later backed by the Spokesperson of the international institution. Homs insisted that there is no automatic mechanism in the EU treaties to kick out a separated part of a Member State, although neither are there automatic mechanisms to ensure it remains within the EU. The Catalan Government’s Spokesperson stated that everything depends on the political will and negotiations. In fact, he hoped to hold such talks at Spanish level but also including the EU institutions, “because too many interests are at stake”. He added that the most pressing question is whether the Catalan people can hold a self-determination referendum, and that the EU debate is used as a distraction.

The majority of Catalan parties propose an independence vote in 2014 the day after the human chain

September 12, 2013 10:19 PM | ACN

The day after Catalonia’s National Day and the 1.6 million strong human chain supporting independence from Spain, Catalan parties reacted to the massive demonstration. The President of the Catalan Government and leader of the governing Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), Artur Mas, re-affirmed yesterday his “commitment” to organising a referendum on self-determination for 2014. The Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) declared its intention to work with other parties and civil society organisations on having the question and exact date for the vote ready within the next two months in order to call it in 2014. The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) asked the other parties to put forward their projects for the day after the referendum.

The Spanish Government initially downplays the human chain for Catalonia’s independence

September 12, 2013 09:18 PM | ACN

However, the Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister, José Manuel García Margallo, recognised the “success” of the demonstration. Earlier, the Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, had stated that there was “a silent majority” who “stayed at home” and did not participate in the 1.6 million strong demonstration, since Catalonia has 7.5 million inhabitants. She also insisted in holding “a dialogue within the Constitution”, which means completely rejecting a self-determination vote. The Catalan Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, considered that the Spanish Government emphasising that there was a “silent majority” was an “absurd” statement. Homs added that, if the Spanish Government really wanted to count how many people are against Catalonia’s independence, the best thing is holding a democratic vote on the issue.

The Catalan Government passes the Foreign Affairs bill as a step towards “an ambitious future”

August 28, 2013 12:05 AM | ACN

The Catalan Presidency Minister and Government Spokesman, Francesc Homs, said in a press conference on Tuesday that the draft of the bill develops the powers granted by the 2006 Statue of Autonomy, while complying with Spanish law and constitutional framework. He added that it is an instrument to strengthen the external activities of the government of a country “that aims to become free” and is the first bill of the government focused on its foreign relations. Homs also said he is confident that, sooner or later, the European Commission will publish its opinion about the legal consequences of independence in Catalonia and Scotland.

The Catalan Government approves its own municipal law and rejects that of the Spanish Executive

July 30, 2013 11:25 PM | ACN

The Catalan Government has reminded it has the exclusive powers to rule local governments in Catalonia, an authority which stems from the Catalan Statute of Autonomy approved by the Spanish Parliament and a binding referendum. Therefore, it does not recognise the Spanish Government’s law proposal on local governments, approved last week in Madrid, and will reject any imposition. The new Catalan law foresees the volunteer merging of municipalities and elimination of 1,034 remunerated positions in the County Councils. It also reshapes the body managing services within the Barcelona Metropolitan Area. Furthermore, it strengthens the control on the creation of new local bodies and the public services offered by municipalities.

The Catalan Government will ask the President of the Constitutional Court to be excluded from issues affecting Catalonia

July 30, 2013 11:11 PM | ACN

The new President of the Spanish Constitutional Court, Francisco Pérez de los Cobos, has turned out to be a member of the People’s Party (PP), which runs the Spanish Government. In addition, the expert in labour law had drafted several reports for the PP on several issues. On top of this, Pérez de los Cobos wrote a book with many sentences against Catalonia and Catalan citizens, amongst other controversial stances. According to the Catalan Government, this person cannot chair an institution that has to act as a referee between the different levels of government in Spain and that has to interpret the Constitution regarding very sensitive issues, such as Catalonia’s self-determination. For this reason, the Catalan Government demanded that Pérez de los Cobos be excluded from all the cases that involve the Catalan Executive.

Catalan infrastructure giant Abertis has made a profit of €293 million during the first half of 2013

July 26, 2013 09:50 PM | ACN

For the first 6 months of 2013 the Catalan company Abertis has made a profit of €293, a 62% reduction on last year, according to a report issued by the company to the Spanish Stock Market Authority (CNMV). This year the company has increased its market share in Brazil and Chile and has received part of its income through the sale of its stake in Eutelsat. In spite of the reduction of net profit, the company’s EBITDA is up 23% on last year to €1.43 billion. Abertis specialises in three business areas: airports, toll roads and telecommunication infrastructures. 65% of the firms’ revenue comes from outside Spain.

The Catalan Government will totally modify the "file of endorsements" after the controversy

July 10, 2013 01:07 AM | CNA

The Catalan Executive announced the creation of a website showing the support of social organisations, NGOs and private companies for its policies, named the “file of endorsements”. The Catalan Government’s official aim was to foster participation as well as gather endorsement for its policies. The idea was heavily criticised by some opposition parties and some Madrid-based media. They considered the website to be an anti-democratic measure. According to them, it would split society into two sides: those backing the Government and “being good Catalans” and those going against it and being “bad Catalans”. The Catalan Executive admitted that it was quite shocked with the controversy, since other governments in Spain have published similar lists of supporters. However, it announced that it will totally modify the project.

Éric Abidal joins Monaco after 6 years playing for FC Barcelona

July 8, 2013 09:14 PM | CNA

The French defender has signed a season long deal, with the option of a further year. Abidal returns to the football club where he played from 2000-2002 before signing for Lyon. Abidal played for Barça between 2007 and 2013. The Catalan club and the player announced in late May he will not continue playing with FC Barcelona in the next season. Abidal’s touching farewell took place in early June at the Camp Nou, after he had played the last 15 minutes of the FC Barcelona vs Malaga game.

The Catalan Justice Minister is indicted as witness regarding an influence peddling case

July 4, 2013 01:04 AM | CNA

Following a petition by the Spanish Public Prosecutor Office, the judge has called Germà Gordó, the Catalan Minister of Justice, to testify as witness in the alleged influence peddling case of the allocation of licenses to technical vehicle inspection garages. This case affects the ‘Number 3’ of the governing Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), Oriol Pujol, since the Supreme Court of Catalonia (TSJ) suspects he could have participated in irregular allocation of these licenses. At the time the alleged incidents happened, Gordó was not the Justice Minister but the Secretary of the Catalan Government, a key position overseeing all the daily decisions of the Executive. The TSJ wants to hear Gordó’s version of the tender procedure. Besides, Pujol’s defence has called the former Catalan Business Minister as a witness, since his department was running the tender.