Barcelona Mayor to submit to vote of confidence after failing to pass 2017 budget

November 16, 2016 07:11 PM | ACN

Barcelona’s Mayor, Ada Colau, will have to submit to a vote of confidence after the opposition blocked the budget presented by the local government for 2017. All the opposition parties except from the Catalan socialists (PSC), with whom the executive has an agreement, voted against the new accounts in a committee on Tuesday. Colau said this Wednesday that she is “not afraid” of a vote of confidence, but stated that “there is still room to reach an agreement” and to avoid it. In this vein, the mayor stressed her will to “seriously take into account all the arguments and proposals made” by the opposition to improve the budget that will be voted on on the 23rd of December. If Colau loses this vote, the opposition will have a month to submit a vote of no confidence - which will need to be supported by at least 21 councillors (absolute majority) to force her out. 

Barcelona opens space to promote intercultural exchange with the United States

November 14, 2016 06:32 PM | ACN

Since this Monday Barcelona forms part of the global network of cities that boast an American Space, a place to promote cultural exchange with the United Sates. The Ignasi Iglésias-Can Fabra library inaugurated this morning a centre called American Space Barcelona that will offer free activities, programmes and workshops to citizens. The programme of activities of the centre aims at providing information on the US, teaching the English language and giving academic advice to study in the North American country.Barcelona’s Deputy Mayor for Business, Innovation and Culture, James Collboni, stated that the centre will allow “to overcome stereotypes, prejudices and preconceived ideas” about the United States, especially among young people. 

Berga Mayor arrest outrages Catalan Government, while Spanish Executive assesses it as “normal”

November 4, 2016 06:42 PM | ACN

The Catalan Government Spokeswoman, Neus Munté, expressed this Friday the Catalan Executive’s disapproval of the arrest of the Mayor of Berga, Montse Venturós, for refusing to take down a pro-independence flag from the town hall building. Munté considered it not only “outrageous” but “an aberration both from a political and democratic perspective”. However, the case showed the different in criteria between the Catalan and Spanish institutions. While Munté lamented Spain’s “prosecution” of elected representatives and the “judicialisation of politics”, the Spanish Executive assessed the arrest as “only normal”. In his first appearance as Spanish Government spokesman, Íñigo Méndez de Vigo warned that “whoever fails to adhere to the rules has to accept the consequences”. 

Police arrest Mayor of Berga for refusing to take down pro-independence flag

November 4, 2016 10:41 AM | ACN

Pro-independence radical left CUP’s Montse Venturós, Mayor of Berga, a small village 80 kilometres from Barcelona, has been arrested this Friday by the Catalan Police, the Mossos d’Esquadra. Venturós will now have to testify before the judge over an alleged electoral crime for refusing to take down pro-independence flags from the façade of the Town Hall on the 27th of September, the day of the Catalan Elections, and on the 20th of December, that of the Spanish Elections. Indeed, Venturós has twice refused to testify before the judge for the same case. CUP have already expressed their disapproval of the arrest and have called on members to demonstrate before Berga’s court in support of Venturós. Parliament’s President, Carme Forcadell, who has been lately accused of ‘disobedience’ for allowing the pro-independence roadmap to be put to vote in the Catalan Chamber, has also expressed her support for Venturós, via Twitter. “Neither the judicialisation of politics nor the court will impede that Catalans decide their future”, she said. For his part, the Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, stressed that “freedom of speech is not a crime”.

CiU plans to overthrow Mayor Ada Colau in Barcelona City Hall

October 28, 2016 07:08 PM | ACN

This Friday’s plenary session at Barcelona City Hall resulted in the reprobation of Mayor Ada Colau. All the parties in the Chamber except from the governing alternative left alliance ‘Barcelona en Comú’ and radical left pro-independence CUP criticised Colau’s “politics of gesture”. “Today your government was defeated, the majority in the chamber censors your way of governing and is telling you that we can’t continue like this”, stated liberal CiU’s spokesman in Barcelona City Hall, Joaquim Forn. Moreover, Forn committed to discussing with all the groups in the Chamber how “to build an alternative majority to the current government”. Colau, a former activist especially committed to fighting evictions, won the local elections in May last year. However, she only obtained 11 seats, just one more than the second most voted list, CiU.

‘Brexit’ will "strengthen collaboration between London and Barcelona", Barcelona’s second Deputy Mayor says

October 3, 2016 06:47 PM | ACN / Sara Prim

Barcelona’s Deputy Mayor for Business, Innovation and Culture, Jaume Collboni, visited London this Monday to explain the so-called ‘Brexit Plan’. This initiative aims to establish a unique window to support British investors and entrepreneurs that want to come to Barcelona to launch a business. The plan also seeks to convince companies currently based in the UK, which may be considering relocation after ‘Brexit’, that Barcelona is a “business-friendly city”, Collboni stated. The main goal is not to compete with London but to establish a relationship “based on collaboration and cooperation between these and other global capital cities such as Berlin or Amsterdam”, he added. The politician met with London’s Deputy Mayor for Business, Rjaesh Agrawal, and the economic promotion agency of the metropolitan area of ??London, London & Partners. “The meetings have gone very well", Collboni said and acknowledged that Barcelona "already has a very good international image". 

Barcelona cracks down on illegal subletting for tourists and closes 256 apartments

August 11, 2016 06:35 PM | ACN

The Catalan capital’s action plan against illegal accommodation for tourists resulted in July in the closure of 256 apartments whose activity has been considered illegal, a figure which has to be added to the 112 orders announced in the first half of 2016. Besides ordering the ceasing of their activity, the accommodation websites responsible for the flats, Airbnb and Homeaway, will have to face a 30,000 euros fine for not having the required licence. This has been possible mainly due to the task of the so-called ‘flat scouts’, a figure recently created by Barcelona’s city hall, who have found 234 illegal accommodations, while the official inspectors in charge of this only detected 22. “This is not a summer campaign but an action plan which has come to stay” warned Barcelona’s deputy mayor for Ecology, Urbanism and Mobility, Janet Sanz and emphasised that tourism in Barcelona “is not related to seasons”. 

Barcelona closes the Immigrant Detention Centre, but Spain immediately orders its reopening

July 7, 2016 06:55 PM | ACN

Barcelona’s City Hall has found a legal stratagem for not reopening the Immigrant Detention Centre (CIE), which closed in October for renovation works. The CIE, located in Barcelona’s industrial ‘Zona Franca’ area, didn’t have the correct activity licence nor comply with fire regulations and thus the Catalan capital called for the Spanish Ministry for Affairs, the body responsible for the centre, to cease the CIE’s activity. However, the Delegation of the Spanish Government to Catalonia has announced in a communiqué the reopening of the CIE once the works are done and that the judicial services will appeal Barcelona City Hall’s decision. Before hearing about the reopening notice, Barcelona’s deputy mayor, Jaume Asens, stated that if the Ministry refuses the order and reopens the CIE “coercive measures” such as fines or “sealing off the centre” will have to be put in place.

Riot police must be “proportionate” to avoid “violent escalation” in Barcelona, urges Mayor Colau

May 26, 2016 06:21 PM | ACN

The eviction of squatters from the so-called ‘Expropriated Bank’ in Barcelona’s Gracia neighbourhood has caused three consecutive nights of riots in the city and has raised concerns in the press about an excessive use of force by the police. The Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, urged the police to avoid “a violent escalation”. Colau, a former activist herself, said that she trusts the Mossos d’Esquadra, the Catalan Police, but admitted to being “worried” by reports that suggest that the riot squad’s behaviour was disproportionate. “I don’t know and I don’t want to prejudge anything. I trust the Mossos but I need to ask for caution and urge all police actions to aim at avoiding any escalation of violence”, she said, asking the officers to, first and foremost, “protect the neighbours”. Meanwhile, the Public Prosecutor’s Office is investigating former mayor Xavier Trias, who for a year paid the rent of the ‘Expropriated Bank’ in order to avoid an eviction.

Catalan Minister at the UN headquarters: “I am a member of a government working to become an independent state”

May 17, 2016 02:37 PM | ACN

Catalan Minister for Planning and Sustainability Josep Rull is at the UN Headquarters in New York, together with over 100 representatives of local and regional governments from around the world, in order to prepare ‘Habitat III’, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, which will be held in Quito, Ecuador in October. In his intervention, Rull emphasised Catalonia’s push for independence and the legitimacy of such a process in front of the international community. I am a member of a democratically elected government that is working to become an independent state. Earlier, Rull greeted the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon “on behalf of Catalonia”. The Catalan Minister also expressed the Government’s point of view regarding the draft of the New Urban Agenda, a compilation of pledges and new obligations which set in place a new global strategy on urbanisation for the next two decades and which is expected to be approved at the Quito summit. 

Spain takes part of the energy poverty Catalan law before the Constitutional Court

April 29, 2016 05:22 PM | ACN

Less than 24 hours after meeting with her Catalan counterpart, current Spanish Vice President Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría announced that some articles of the Catalan law against energy poverty will be taken before the Constitutional Court (TC). Thus, Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras’ demands for the Spanish executive to “reconsider” this procedure haven’t been listened to. However, Santamaría nuanced that those precepts which are in relation to guaranteeing the energy supply to those who may be at social risk are not affected by the suspension. On the other hand, some measures oriented toward avoiding evictions have been suspended. Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, responded by saying that this measure leaves “in the open” the most vulnerable families.  

Barcelona’s Mayor reports to the EC Spain’s “immoral” management of the refugee crisis

April 5, 2016 06:22 PM | ACN

Barcelona’s Mayor, Ada Colau, travelled to Brussels this Tuesday to report Spain’s “immoral”management regarding the refugee crisis, which she described as “deeply shaming”. According to Colau, citizens in Barcelona “are asking to be a host city”and “die of shame and outrage when they see images of Lesbos and Idomeni”. “We are part of the solution, we have expertise and are willing to help”she stated, but regretted that sometimes local governments “are not taken into account”. Together with other European mayors, Colau met the EU's migration Commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, and the EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Corina Cretu, and asked them to “listen to the local governments”. Avramopoulos assured that he “took note”of Colau’s demands but emphasised that EU support to local authorities is always “through the Member States”.

Barcelona reaches an agreement with Athens to initially host 100 refugees

March 16, 2016 06:33 PM | ACN

The Catalan capital reached an agreement with Athens to host 100 refugees from those living in camps in the Greek capital. This compromise is the first stage of a collaboration programme between both cities, which may be enhanced by the respective mayors in the near future. Since the competences regarding the refugees’ hosting depend on the Spanish State, Barcelona’s mayor, Ada Colau, will send a letter to the current Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, so that the necessary procedures can be started as soon as possible. In the same vein, Colau criticised Spain’s inactivity on this matter, pointing out that the Spanish government “took the compromise to relocate 16,000 people and have only relocated 18”, she stated.

Carles Puigdemont, the mayor who became Catalan President number 130

January 11, 2016 02:03 PM | ACN

Carles Puigdemont was invested as Catalan President number 130 with the absolute majority of the Catalan Parliament. A last-minute agreement between pro-independence forces cross-party list ‘Junts Pel Sí’ and radical left CUP allowed the new government to start working and finally unblock the deadlock over the investiture. Mas decided to step aside and named president of the Association of Municipalities for Independence and mayor of Girona, a city 100 km north of Barcelona, Carles Puigdemont as his successor. A member of former governing party liberal Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya, Puigdemont ran for cross-party list ‘Junts Pel Sí’ in Girona and has repeatedly expressed his commitment to Catalonia’s pro-independence roadmap. 

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.