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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 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.

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 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.

Abertis’ turnover increased by 25% in 2013 to reach €4.65 billion

February 26, 2014 09:34 PM | ACN

The profits of Barcelona-based Abertis, a world leader in the toll road management sector, dropped by 39.8% in 2013 compared to 2012 figures. However, the company emphasised that both years are “not comparable” since profits were particularly high in 2012 due to the capital gains from selling corporate shares. If those operations were not taken into account, the recurring profit would have indicated a 6.5% growth. However, the Catalan multinational’s net profit amounted to €617 million in 2013, as opposed to the €1.02 billion reached in the previous year, as reported to the Spanish Stock Exchange Regulation Authority (CNMV) on Wednesday. Abertis’ EBITDA was set at €2.92 billion, representing an increase of 23.6% while the turnover increased by 25% to reach €4.65 billion.

Jaume Cabré’s novel ‘I confess’ to be translated into 20 languages

February 11, 2014 06:57 PM | ACN / Emma Garzi

Jaume Cabré’s latest novel, Jo confesso (‘I confess’), which was recently awarded the Courrier International Prize for ‘Best foreign book’, will be translated into 20 languages. The work has already been published in 9 languages ??and will be available in English in 2015. The Catalan writer has been praised internationally for his novels delving into the human condition and reflecting on mankind’s propensity towards evil. In Jo confesso, a multi-layered novel starting in Barcelona in the 1950s, the main character investigates his family’s past and wealth, going all the way back to the very origins of evil, notably Spanish Inquisition, Franco dictatorship and Nazi Germany. Cabré’s contribution to the projection of Catalan culture abroad will be rewarded this Tuesday by Barcelona’s City Council.  

‘Sciences Po’ Professor: “transition” solution needed so “Catalans are not excluded from the EU”

January 31, 2014 07:49 PM | ACN

A Professor at the prestigious Paris Institute of Political Studies (Science Po), Jean-Bernard Auby, has advocated for a temporary solution to keep Catalonia within the European Union if it reaches independence from Spain. This agreement should guarantee that Catalonia will not be excluded from the EU even if it does not immediately become a full-member. During a conference in Sciences Po Toulouse organised alongside the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (Diplocat), Auby insisted that “Catalonia and the Catalans are part of the EU” and for this reason, if they become independent “one shouldn’t, in a mechanical way, impose on them to go through the procedures we impose on those who are complete outsiders”. The conference ‘The right to self-determination of Catalonia. Legality and democratic legitimacy’ is part of a series of debates on the right to self-determination, organised by the Diplocat and scheduled in prestigious universities throughout Europe.

Barcelona welcomes Le Corbusier’s architectural ‘landscapes’ with an exhibition

January 28, 2014 08:00 PM | ACN / Pau Cortina

Le Corbusier, one of the key figures of twentieth-century architecture, was more than a mere creator of buildings. His ideas on urban planning, furniture design and his innovative blending of architecture within the surrounding landscape are an integral part of his unconventional work. Such different creative facets of the artist are at the core of the exhibition “Le Corbusier. An atlas of modern landscapes”, held at Barcelona’s CaixaForum from the 29th of January to the 11th of May. The exhibition, the largest dedicated to the artist in the past 25 years, displays 215 objects from the MoMA and the ‘Fondation Le Corbusier’, which stress the extent of his contribution to international architecture.

‘Photography Nobel Prize’ Joan Fontcuberta on show in Paris

January 13, 2014 08:52 PM | ACN

The Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP) in Paris will open on Wednesday, January, 15th an exhibition entitled ‘Camouflages’, devoted to the renowned photographer Joan Fontcuberta . Thanks to 10 series of photographs, visitors will journey through the works of the Catalan artist, who was awarded the prestigious Hasselblad prize in 2013, considered as ‘the Photography Nobel Prize’. The jury had highlighted that Fontcuberta was “one of the most imaginative contemporary photographers” of our time. The exhibition, which will occupy three of the four floors of the MEP, explores the notions of ??camouflage, concealment, and disguise: camouflage of the artist, of photography, of reality, and of truth.

5 million overnight stays in Lloret de Mar in 2013

January 10, 2014 07:28 PM | ACN

In 2013, in terms of occupancy rates, the town of Lloret de Mar (Costa Brava, north-eastern Catalonia), is the second tourist destination in Catalonia, behind Barcelona, and the fifth in Spain. According to data published by the Spanish Statistics Institute (INE), Lloret de Mar registered 4,989,836 overnight stays during 2013. Foreign tourists were an overwhelming majority, accounting for 4,310,537 of these stays. Besides, between January and December, the town surpassed one million tourists, with a majority of foreign visitors, from France (203,400 people) , Germany (124,000), Russia (107,600) and the United Kingdom (84,800).

French study backs EU membership of independent Catalonia and Scotland

January 9, 2014 07:31 PM | ACN

The former Chief of Staff of the French Minister for European Affairs and current member of the Conseil d’État, Yves Gounin, argues that the independence of Catalonia, Scotland or Flanders would not cause their immediate expulsion from the European Union but neither would it result in their automatic inclusion. Gounin states that a political negotiation should be undertaken; it would be “the most realistic” approach, he says. Therefore, according to this study published in the journal Politique Étrangère, independence and EU membership should be negotiated at the same time and therefore the implementation of EU Treaties would not be interrupted at any moment. Gounin underlines that there are legal and political arguments to defend that an independent Catalonia or Scotland would not be expelled from the EU. It is in “everybody’s” interest, he highlighted.

Direct Barcelona-Paris train to reach 1 million passengers in its first year

December 16, 2013 07:45 PM | ACN

1 million passengers are expected to use the new direct High-Speed Train between Barcelona and Paris within a year. The Spanish Transport Minister Ana Pastor, her French counterpart Fréderic Cuvillier and the Catalan Minister for Planning and Sustainability Santi Vila, have described the High-Speed connection as a “milestone” that will further develop the bond between states and develop their economy. The very first direct train from Barcelona to Paris circulated last Sunday, connecting seventeen cities between the two states. Both Catalan and French ministers have stated they had taken measures to accelerate the construction of the Perpignan-Montpellier section, where trains are still circulating at a regular speed, making journeys significantly longer.