The Catalan President insists on talking to the Spanish Government about the self-determination claims

April 4, 2013 01:20 AM | CNA

Artur Mas, the President of the Catalan Government and leader of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), is sceptical about the Spanish Executive’s desire to find a negotiated solution regarding Catalonia’s self-determination claims. Asked about the possibility of giving up the self-determination agenda in exchange for more economic resources for the Catalan Executive, Mas stated that “the Spanish Government will not exchange a better fiscal scheme for the self-determination vote”. However, he insisted that public finances are in “an emergency situation”. Therefore, he offered again for the Catalan Independence Party (ERC) and the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) to sit in the Cabinet because “the situation requires adding strength” in order “to guarantee the survival of Catalonia’s self-government”.

The number of home mortgages in Catalonia grew by 47.1% in January compared to the previous month

March 26, 2013 11:12 PM | CNA / Josep Molina

The increase is the highest one registered in Catalonia over the last year. 3,751 home mortgage contracts were signed in January. At the end of 2012, the fiscal benefits for purchasing houses were diminishing and were non-existent by January. Despite this fact, there was a peak in the number of mortgage loans taken out. For the whole of Spain, the number of mortgage loan contracts signed in January reached 25,447, a 44.7% increase in relation to December last year. This is the highest increase since January 2007. Furthermore, the average price of the mortgages signed in January in Catalonia reached €110,418. In year-over-year terms, the number of mortgages signed in Catalonia in January 2013 was 18.58% lower than those signed in January 2012.

Catalonia’s public body offering credit funded 8,500 companies in 2011 and 2012 with €1.7 billion

March 25, 2013 10:03 PM | CNA

The Institut Català de Finances (ICF), the Catalan Government’s financial institution which offers credit, announced that it gave €1.7 billion in loans to 8,500 companies over the last two years in an Action Plan. The plan’s main objective is to foster economic activity and prevent companies from going bankrupt due to liquidity issues. 98% of those who received loans were SMEs and independent workers. The ICF’s Action Plan had the objective of injecting liquidity into the real economy, into the Catalan business network, while the private banks are going through their restructuring process and access to credit is particularly difficult for many companies.

Catalonia’s economy contracted by 1% in 2012, while the Spanish GDP dropped by 1.4%

March 21, 2013 09:58 PM | CNA

According to the Spanish Statistics Institute (INE), the Catalan GDP fell by 1% last year. However, according to the Catalan Statistics Institute (Idescat), it dropped by 1.3%. Regarding Spain’s economy, the INE declared that it fell by 1.4% while the Idescat indicates it plummeted by 1.9%. The reason for these differences is that data from both institutes are based on estimates and are still provisional. In any case, Catalonia is one of the Autonomous Communities with the mildest recession in Spain and continues to be that with the highest GDP, €198.63 billion. In addition, Catalonia is among those with the highest GDP per capita, set at €27,248 while the Spanish average was €22,772.

The Catalan Government posts a debt of €50.95 billion at the end of 2012

March 14, 2013 08:09 PM | CNA

The Catalan Finance Minister, Andreu Mas-Colell has announced that the Catalan Government had a public debt of €50,948 million on the 31st of December, 2012. Catalonia’s debt has increased by €16 billion in only 2 years due to the financial crisis. Furthermore, in 2013, the Catalan Government will have to pay €2.2 billion in interest on the debts – equivalent to 8% of its budget and 1% of Catalonia’s annual GDP. Catalonia has been a net contributor to the European Union for decades and has been paying around 8.5% of its annual GDP – equivalent to €17 billion – every year for services and infrastructure in the rest of Spain. Despite this fact, the Catalan Government does not receive enough money from the Spanish Executive, which raises most of the taxes and distributes revenue among Autonomous Communities.

The Mortgage Platform has been fighting to stop house evictions in Spain

March 14, 2013 10:05 AM | Carlota Guerra

The Popular Legislative Initiative promoted by the Platform is pending debate in the Spanish Parliament. The Mortgage Platform was founded in Barcelona in 2009. Over recent years, it has worked intensively to prevent and ultimately stop people from being evicted from their own homes. Subprime mortgages, very common during the first decade of this century, were one of the main consequences of the property bubble in Spain and have resulted in more than 400,000 foreclosures in the whole of Spain since 2007. This situation is aggravated due to the economic crisis, which increases social inequality and has placed evictions among the first concerns on the political agenda.

The Catalan economy contracted by 1.3% in 2012, while the Spanish economy decreased by 1.8%

February 14, 2013 10:57 PM | CNA

Economic recession hit Catalonia even harder in 2012 than in 2011, when it dropped by 0.7%. The contraction was especially severe in the last quarter of the year. In December, Catalonia’s GDP plummeted by 0.6% compared to 3 months previously. The fourth quarter’s poor figures made the Catalan economy contract by 1.3% over 2012. In 2011, it also decreased but at a slower pace, dropping by 0.7%. For the whole of Spain, the economy plummeted by 1.8% in 2012 and by 0.7% over the last quarter of the year, compared to the figures from September 2012. The main reason behind the last quarter’s drop is the decrease in consumption by families, compared to the purchases made in the third quarter, before the VAT increase.

Barcelona taxi drivers end their protest after reaching an agreement to eliminate the new shifts

January 9, 2013 11:58 PM | CNA

After two days of protests making Barcelona El Prat Airport being without cabs for several hours, taxi union representatives and the Metropolitan Taxi Institute – in charge of managing the sector – have agreed to eliminate the shift system and find another way to reduce the number of taxis on the streets. Taxi drivers have stopped all their protests and they will be using the previous system establishing two days of rest per week. The shift system had been implemented to better pair the availability of taxis to the real demand, which has decreased because of the recession. The system had been approved by Barcelona taxi drivers in a binding referendum. However, one week after its implementation, some of them protested stating that it had reduced their turnover.

A strike leaves Barcelona El Prat Airport temporarily without taxis

January 7, 2013 11:52 PM | CNA

Taxi drivers have protested against the new car shifts implemented as of last week. The new shift system affects all Barcelona taxis and it has been designed to reduce the number of cars on the streets in order to increase drivers’ profits by reducing the available taxis at a given time. However, some taxi drivers think the new shifts cause their turnover to drop. For this reason they have decided to protest by not serving Barcelona El Prat Airport or Barcelona Sants Station with cabs on Monday afternoon. The Metropolitan Taxi Institute, in charge of managing the sector, has already announced “talks” with taxi union representatives to “evaluate” the new system.

The Catalan Government delays ordinary payments in September due to not receiving Spain’s €560 million on time

October 6, 2012 01:00 AM | CNA

The Spanish Government states that the money will “start to arrive” next Tuesday. Over the past few weeks, the Catalan Finance Minister has warned about the urgency of receiving the requested €560 million from the Liquidity Fund for the Autonomous Communities (FLA) in order to face all September’s payments. However, the Spanish Government has sent €400 million to pay debt maturities but has not sent the remaining €560 million to pay private health, education and social centres that receive regular funds from the Catalan Executive. All direct salaries have been paid, but not other payments. In August, the Catalan Government requested €5.02 billion from the FLA for the entire year 2012 in order to face debt maturities and ordinary payments, since access to international markets is closed to the Autonomous Communities.

Spanish banking system’s stress tests show that CaixaBank and Banc Sabadell do not need additional funds

September 29, 2012 02:00 PM | CNA

However, CatalunyaBanc would need a maximum of €10.83 billion in the most stressed scenario. According to the independent audit by Oliver Wyman, with KPGM, Deloitte, PwC and Ernst & Young, the Spanish banking system would need a maximum of €53.75 billion in the worst case scenario. 4 banking groups would concentrate 86% of these additional funds. In total, 7 banking groups would need additional funds, while 7 groups would be strong enough, with their own resources, to resist a hypothetical scenario with a 6.5% recession between 2012 and 2014, 27% unemployment, a 85% drop in land prices and a 55% decrease in housing prices.

Pirate parties meet in Catalonia for their first Congress aiming to create a future European party

September 3, 2012 11:40 PM | CNA / David Tuxworth

The first Congress of the different Pirate parties of Europe aims to create a Pirate Party at a European level. The Congress made clear the movement’s recipe to tackle the crisis: freedom of information, more transparency, and greater public participation. Forty representatives from throughout Europe met in Catalonia to discuss the future of the political group.

CaixaBank, BBVA and Santander resist the stress test and would not require bailout money

June 22, 2012 01:05 AM | CNA

Independent auditors state that in the worst possible scenario the Spanish banking system would need up to €62 billion. The Eurozone agreed to put at Spain’s disposal up to €100 billion if needed. In the most likely scenario, the Spanish banking system would require between €16 billion and €25.6 billion. Within the most stressed case, Spain’s three main banks would have enough resources of their own to face difficulties and would not need any additional funding. They are the Barcelona-based CaixaBank and the two international giants BBVA and Banco Santander.