Cosmopolitan Catalonia: a long history of attracting newcomers from worldwide

March 17, 2015 08:48 PM | Nell English

Catalonia has a long history with immigration, welcoming foreigners from all over the world has left it with a cosmopolitan and multicultural nature. In more recent years, immigration has been well-documented by the Catalan Government and official statistics, which show various patterns. The first wave of people arriving in Catalonia, especially in the industrial capital of Barcelona, were domestic immigrants from within Spain, while later many came from South America and Northern Africa. The recent economic crisis caused a lull in these figures, but the number of foreign nationals from Asia and Europe (especially Italy and the UK) has increased over more recent years. Conscious of the need for sustainable co-living, Catalonia taken pains to accommodate its diverse population and the ACN spoke to several people about their experience moving to Barcelona.

Left-wing Catalan independence ERC doesn’t back new budget and pushes for early elections

November 13, 2014 08:20 PM | ACN

The left-wing Catalan independence party ERC, which has shared a parliamentary stability agreement with the governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU for the last 2 years, is pushing to begin a new political period. The ERC’s leader, Oriol Junqueras, met on Thursday with the President of the Catalan Government and CiU’s leader, Artur Mas, and confirmed to him that they will not back the new budget for 2015. The evening before, Junqueras had presented his road map for the next few months. The ERC wants early elections now, which would become “constituent elections” if a majority of pro-independence parties were to win. Furthermore, the ERC prefers to run alone, not in a shared electoral list. If Catalans voted for a majority of pro-independence parties, the new Parliament would start building the new state’s basic structures and drafting a Constitution, which would have to be later ratified through a binding referendum.

The Constitutional Court bans the Catalan Government's drug prescription fee

May 6, 2014 10:06 PM | ACN

Following an appeal from the Spanish Government, the Constitutional Court has confirmed the cautionary halt adopted in January 2013 and it has now definitively banned the Catalan Executive's drug prescription fee. The measure had been adopted to reduce pharmaceutical spending by limiting superfluous drug demand in order to reduce the overall public spending. It was one of the austerity measures adopted by the Catalan Government in 2012 to reduce public deficit, in order to meet the strict deficit targets imposed by the Spanish Executive. The measure meant that Catalans had to pay a one-euro fee for each drug prescription, with a maximum of 60 euros per year and with many exceptions for people with chronic diseases, on low incomes and pensioners. On the same day, the Constitutional Court has backed the Catalan Executive's judicial fees, also appealed by Madrid.

Barcelona doctors can perform breast reconstruction in a single surgery

January 30, 2014 11:51 PM | ACN / Sergi Sabaté

A surgical team of the Hospital de Bellvitge in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Greater Barcelona, has successfully reconstructed the breasts of 22 women suffering from cancer in one single surgery. This world pioneer medical procedure, consisting in transplanting dorsal muscle on to the removed breast, allows patients to “turn the page” on the disease much more quickly, according to Joan Maria Vinyals, the Head of plastic surgery. Indeed, this “complete and radical reconstruction”, which includes the nipple and areola, avoids having to proceed to a second surgery and erases the usual trauma regarding aesthetic concerns. Leonor Garrido, one of the patients, stated that the technique “had improved a lot” her quality of life since she had her tumour removed and the breast entirely reconstructed immediatly after.

Ambulance workers go on strike in Catalonia for four days but essential services are guaranteed

September 9, 2013 09:21 PM | ACN

The ambulance service has gone on strike from Monday to Thursday because of a 9.2% drop in staff wages. However, the provision of basic services is guaranteed, such as emergencies – including accidents and intra-hospital journeys – and the transportation of oncology and haemodialysis patients with scheduled treatments. The Catalan Health Ministry and the trade union CCOO showed a disagreement on the strike’s success. According to the Catalan Government, the demonstration was only followed by 8% of the workers on its first day, while the CCOO stated that 90% of the non-essential services have not been provided. The owners of the ambulance providers announced significant salary reductions in July. After talks with unions and the mediation of the Catalan Labour Court, an agreement has not been reached to avoid the strike.

Pharmaceutical spending drops by 24.6% in Catalonia in July

August 27, 2012 11:28 PM | CNA

Compared to a year ago, the Catalan Healthcare System spent 24.6% less last July than in the same month of 2011. In July 2011, Catalonia spent €143.52 million on pharmaceutical products while it spent €108.10 million last month, when the drug prescription fee began and citizens started to pay a greater share of the cost of prescription drugs. Furthermore, drug prescriptions fell by 20%. In the whole of Spain, pharmaceutical spending also decreased by 24% last July, compared to a year ago.

The Catalan Government will bring Rajoy’s health decree to the Constitutional Court

June 6, 2012 12:14 AM | CNA

Following the advice of the Catalan Council for Constitutional Guarantees (CGE), the Catalan Executive will appeal the Spanish Government’s decree to save €7 billion in healthcare this year. However, it will continue implementing the decree until a judicial decision is made. According to the CGE, the decree violates 3 Spanish Constitution articles and 3 others from the Catalan Statute of Autonomy. The decree does not guarantee equality among all citizens, since it limits access to public healthcare. In addition, it invades the Catalan Government’s powers. Left-wing Catalan parties were the first to ask for CGE’s opinion, since they consider the new decree violates basic social rights.

The Catalan Government presents its third austerity plan based on further budget cuts “obliged” by Madrid and Brussels

May 16, 2012 12:59 AM | CNA / Gaspar Pericay Coll

The third plan represents an additional budget cut of €1.5 billion, in order to meet the 1.5% deficit target for this year. The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, said that the plan “guarantees essential services”. He also stated that if the Spanish Government had paid what it owed last year, the current reduction would be halved. The plan decreases budget allocations for public companies, reduces public employee salaries once again, decreases the amount allocated for subsidies, delays investments, privatises some public companies, sells public buildings, and implements the measures decided by the Spanish Government regarding health and education. The opposition criticised the plan for not being concrete and effective enough.