Spanish and Catalan socialists will create a committee “to tackle their relationship problems”

November 14, 2016 06:25 PM | ACN

The Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) and its partner in Catalonia (PSC) will create a committee made up of members from both parties to “tackle their relationship problems” and resolve the situation “as soon as possible”. According to PSC’s leader, Miquel Iceta, the committee will have to “evaluate and review if necessary” the relationship between the  parties, established in 1978. According to Javier Fernández, president of the interim managing committee which has led PSOE since last October, the fact that PSC broke the party line and refused to facilitate Mariano Rajoy’s investiture in October was “not serious” nor “democratic”. Indeed, many members of PSOE want PSC out of the Federal Committee and for them not to be able to participate in the Spanish Parliament. The tension between PSOE and PSC reached its height on the 29th of October during the Spanish investiture debate, when 15 Socialist MPs said ‘no’ to Mariano Rajoy’s investiture, among whom were the seven MPs of the PSC. 

Vueling President admits "having failed" to solve the company chaos of the last weeks

July 6, 2016 07:53 PM | ACN

“We have been really focused on trying to solve it but I must admit we have failed”, stated Vueling President, Javier Sánchez-Prieto, in an interview published this Wednesday by Catalan newspaper ‘Ara’. Sánchez-Prieto conceded that mistakes were made by the Catalan low-cost airline’s management during the last weeks’ aerial chaos at Barcelona El Prat airport: Vueling cancelled more than 60 flights in the past four days and most of those flights which did operate suffered from delays, affecting nearly 78,000 passengers. A situation which was made worse by the repeated strikes of French air traffic controllers, the last of which started last Monday. “Honestly and being self-critical we should have appeared ahead of time and communicated better”, he stated. 

Caravan transformed into a dental clinic to help refugees

June 10, 2016 10:27 AM | N. Guisasola / Ivet Puig

‘Amb les teves mans’ (‘With your hands’) is a Catalan NGO which has cre-ated a mobile dental clinic to attend refugees in Greece. The idea was born in March when some of the volunteers from this organisation trav-elled to Lesbos and Idomeni, on the border between Greece and Mace-donia. The doctors they talked to at the Idomeni camp explained that one of the main difficulties they have to deal with regarding the dental problems of the refugees is that many children under 13 have never had the opportunity to visit the dentist before. They will first carry out en-dodontic treatment, fillings for cavities, and tooth extractions for those who need them. The Catalan Association of Dentists has got involved in the project and is helping to find professional volunteers and the re-quired material.

Catalonia hosts half of the 20 refugees newly arrived in Spain

May 24, 2016 02:41 PM | ACN

Three Syrian families, including 4 minors, make up the 10 refugees which will be relocated to Catalonia. They are part of a group of 20 people which arrived this Tuesday in Madrid. 44 more people, expected to arrive on the 30th of May, will follow this first group and 19 more will arrive on the 1st of June. 67 more are due to arrive in Spain by the end of June. In addition, 50 more refugees from Italy will begin to be hosted in Spain shortly, of which 18 are already in Spain as part of a pilot programme. In total, 586 people will be relocated to Spain by the end of June, according to the current Spanish Minister for Home Affairs, Jorge Fernández Díaz. Thus, Spain will become the fourth European country in terms of number of refugees hosted, but so far it only hosts 18 refugees of the 16,000 it has agreed to relocate. 

Barcelona hosts 15th edition of the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates

November 13, 2015 03:05 PM | ACN / Sara Prim

Under the slogan ‘Defend refugees. Achieve world peace’a dozen Nobel Peace Laureates, professors, students and worldwide organisations will tackle the refugee humanitarian crisis and try to offer practical solutions. At the presentation of the 15th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Barcelona, current Catalan President, Artur Mas, assured that the Catalan capital and the whole of Catalonia “are ready”to welcome those who run from war. He described Catalonia as “a good laboratory”of social cohesion and reception experiences on an international scale, as it has repeatedly welcomed people from all over Spain and was the point of departure for many Civil War exiles. Barcelona City Hall’s First Deputy Mayor, Gerardo Pisarello, highlighted Barcelona’s efforts to become a world leader in peace and in respecting human rights.

Around 2,000 refugees to be hosted in Catalonia “for a long time”

September 7, 2015 07:44 PM | ACN

Around 2,000 war refugees will arrive in Catalonia in three months’ time and stay “for a long time”, Catalan Government spokeswoman Neus Munté announced at a meeting this morning. The main goal is to integrate the refugees as much as possible and to guarantee their access to health and education services. During the meeting, Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, and Neus Munté, urged the Spanish government to “accelerate the asylum process” and announce the resources that the EU will allocate for this matter. Colau declared that 2,000 families registered on the list of volunteers even before the authorities agreed on a coordinated answer. This shows “the solidarity of Catalan society and that of Barcelona city” Colau said “and it has been crucial in forcing the government to act”, she added. 

Alleged Islamic State jihadist arrested at El Prat Airport

July 7, 2015 08:30 PM | ACN

The Civil Guard arrested an alleged jihadist at El Prat Airport in Barcelona Tuesday morning. The man was wanted by Belgium for alleged membership in the Islamic State, as confirmed by sources close to the investigation. International authorities sought the individual for having fought with the Islamic State in the Syrian conflict. The man had lived in Belgium before leaving to join the Islamic State, and Belgian authorities had put out an order for his search and arrest after he had allegedly committed crimes of terrorism in the Syrian conflict. He was stopping over at El Prat Airport from Algeria en route to going to another European country, according to the Spanish Ministry of the Interior.

Eco-villages in Catalonia: the rise of new green models in times of crisis

June 19, 2015 04:57 PM | Valentina Marconi

An increasing number of people are fed up with living in concrete jungles. Many think of the countryside as a solution to problems such as stress, a low-paying job and pollution. Due to the start of the economic crisis, this phenomenon boomed, with people beginning to look for an 'alternative way of life' or, at least, new opportunities. Catalonia and the whole of Spain are no exception to this. Here, moving (back) to the countryside nowadays looks like an attractive option to many, especially to young unemployed graduates. However, sustainable agriculture initiatives and the like are the 'junior division' compared to more complex social, cultural and ecological experiments: the eco-villages. Coming in different shapes and sizes, their members share resources and spaces, grow their own food and cover in a sustainable way the energy demand of the buildings they live in. With different missions and features, many eco-villages can be traced back to one or two decades ago and could teach a lot to newcomers.

Rajoy further recentralises powers: Catalan Government to need permission to back companies

June 8, 2015 09:54 PM | ACN

In times of economic crisis, the Mariano Rajoy-led Spanish Government has been making recentralisation a main driver of its political agenda, using the economic recovery as the reason for passing the reforms. An additional step in this direction was taken on Monday with a new regulation forcing Spanish Autonomous Communities to seek permission from the Spanish Ministry of Finance before granting loans and guarantees to private companies located in their territories. From now on, Madrid's permission will be conditional upon the applicant's compliance with deficit targets. The new regulation substantially curbs the Autonomies' powers to shape their industrial policies, following a reform passed in May that modifies both the Organic Law for Financing the Autonomous Communities and the Organic Law on Budgetary Stability and Financial Sustainability.

Almost 900 homeless sleeping on Barcelona’s streets, according to the Fundació Arrels

May 27, 2015 09:17 PM | ACN

The Fundació Arrels (Arrels Foundation) – a Barcelona-based NGO dedicated to homeless people founded in 1987 – registered 892 persons sleeping on the streets of the Catalan capital on Wednesday night. More than 700 volunteers – in groups of three or four – combed the city divided up into 160 areas from midnight until 2 am. The initiative aimed at counting people sleeping on the streets: inside ATM lobbies, under bridges, on benches of public parks, in front of private entrances or nearby train stations. Barcelona's local Ombudsman service – an institution for the defence of rights and public liberties – also took part, through the presence of some of its staff among the volunteers. According to Maria Assumpció Vilà, Head of Barcelona's Ombudsman office, the reality certified by the Arrels Foundation is "absolutely unacceptable".  "An emergency plan must be launched urgently", she stressed, as the Catalan capital cannot accept having 900 people without a place to sleep.

Municipal elections take place on Sunday in Catalonia in uncertain and agitated atmosphere

May 22, 2015 10:28 PM | ACN

Catalans are holding their municipal elections on Sunday, while the elections to the Catalan Parliament are to be held in September, as opposed to other parts of Spain, where they are voting for their regional parliaments on Sunday. These municipal elections come after 7 years of economic crisis and also with very uncertain political horizons. Two debates have dominated the campaign: Catalonia’s independence and the rise of new or secondary parties that promise to change the current model. For many people in Catalonia, Sunday’s elections will be a first stage of the ‘de facto’ plebiscite on independence that is going to take place with the Catalan elections on 27 September. It is also the opportunity to support changing the current political, economic and social model, with the rise of alternative left coalitions. Furthermore, majorities and town halls go through significant changes, particularly in Barcelona and the cities of its Metropolitan Area, where there are no clear winners forecast and surprises are likely to happen.

Catalonia registers largest drop in unemployment drop in 19 years, with 9,469 fewer jobseekers

April 7, 2015 09:00 PM | ACN

At the end of March 2015, there were 571,655 people registered as unemployed in Catalonia. This is 9,469 fewer jobseekers in comparison with February 2015, representing a 1.63% drop. It is also the largest monthly decline in absolute terms since 1996. In annual terms, this was the biggest drop in the last two decades, as the number of jobseekers fell by 52,812 people (-8.46%). Moreover, registered unemployment in Catalonia declined for the 21st consecutive month in annual terms. In Spain as a whole, at the end of March 2015 the number of people registered as unemployed stood at 4.45 million, with 60,214 fewer jobseekers than in February (which represents a 1.33% drop, the largest decline in 13 years). In annual terms, registered unemployment fell by 343,927 (-7.17 %), a positive sign considering that during the last 6 years it had grown in the month of March by an average of more than 35,000 people.

Catalan economy grew by 1.5% in 2014, the best year since 2007

March 27, 2015 05:53 PM | ACN

The GDP of Catalonia increased by 1.5% during 2014, according to the definitive figures released by the Catalan Statistics Institute (Idescat) on Friday. However, on the same day, the Spanish Statistics Institute (INE) published its economic growth figures for 2014 and announced that the Catalan economy had grown by 1.4% last year, the same rate as Spain. In any case, both figures are quite positive after many years of economic crisis and slowdown. In fact, 2014 has been the best year since 2007, when the Catalan economy grew by 3.2% according to the Idescat. The final figure for 2014 is higher than the provisional 1.2% growth rate previously announced. Following European Union instructions, the calculations for last year include R&D activities, as well as prostitution and trafficking of drugs and tobacco.