•  Close up of the President of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Forcadell (by ACN).

    British MPs report Forcadell’s “prosecution” to the Parliament and warn it may set “a dangerous precedent”

    15 British MPs from different political parties presented an ‘Early Day Motion’ this Thursday to the House of Commons to express their “concern” about the prosecution of the Parliament’s President, Carme Forcadell. The document, promoted by Scottish National Party (SNP) MP, George Kerevan, warns that Forcadell “could be subject to debarment from public office” for “allowing a parliamentary debate” and believes that “regardless of the constitutional legalities involved” the situation is not only “regrettable” but also “sets a dangerous precedent”. Therefore, the signers urge the Spanish Government “to reconsider the prosecution” and find “a resolution to its disagreement with the Catalan Parliament through mutual dialogue”. In a press statement, Kerevan also describes the controversy as “a clear case of free speech” and feels that the trial “would only create ill-feeling in Catalonia”.

For the first time, in 2015 PISA tests were computer-based (by ACN)

Catalan pupils score above Spain, EU and OECD average in PISA tests

The latest PISA survey shows that pupils in Catalonia have performed above the Spanish, European Union and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average in all subjects for the first time since the report series was launched in 2000. Catalan students had never reached a score of 500 in the three Pisa tests, always struggling with scientific and mathematical skills, but this time around they passed all of the exams. The average mark in Science is 504 points (12 points more than in the previous edition three years ago), 500 points in maths (7 more) and 500 in reading comprehension, losing a point compared to 2012. The average in Spain, the EU or the OECD is not 500 points or over for any of the three tests. According to the Catalan Minister for Education, Meritxell Ruiz, the results support the “transformation of the educational model” Catalonia has been undergoing since the introduction of the Education Act of Catalonia (LEC, going by its Catalan initials) in 2009.

The President of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Forcadell, on the 30th of November 2016 (by ACN)

Pro-independence parties present motion against prosecution of Catalan Parliament President

The cross-party coalition 'Junts pel Sí' (JxSí) and the pro-independence radical-left CUP entered in the Catalan Parliament’s register a motion to defend the Parliament’s President, Carme Forcadell. The representative is facing criminal liability for allegedly disobeying Spanish Constitutional Court (TC) rulings and allowing the pro-independence roadmap to be put to vote on the 27th of July. According to the text presented by the pro-independence parties, the prosecution of Forcadell “for any parliamentary action flagrantly infringes upon parliamentary inviolability”. Furthermore, the proposal highlights that the criminalisation of parliamentary activity “poses a serious threat to democracy”. The motion was entered into the Parliament’s register on Monday as an urgent extraordinary request and with the express request to debate it in a plenary session. The text also aims at defending “the freedom of expression and the right of initiative of the members of the Catalan Parliament”.

The Mayor of Celrà, Dani Cornellà, before the City Council after receiving the request from the Spanish Government on the 12-O, the 17th of October 2016 (by ACN)

Mayors and councillors of 300 Catalan cities to work during Spain’s Constitution Day

At least a dozen Catalan City Councils will open their doors on the Spanish Constitution Day, on Tuesday the 6th of December. In addition, in almost 300 cities, such as Barcelona, the councillors of pro-independence parties will work, although City Hall will remain closed. Besides this, different protest and solidarity activities will also take place throughout Catalonia, following the recommendations of the Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI), the promoter of the initiative. The organisation sent a manifesto to the elected members of the City Councils so they can read it in front of the municipal offices this Tuesday at 12 pm (CET time). The text deems the Spanish Constitution a “corset” and “a prison for democracy” that “impedes the Catalan people from freely deciding their political future”. The symbolic opening comes just two months after Spain’s National Day festivity, on the 12th of October, when several City Councils decided to open the municipal offices.

Illustration of Barcelona's Mayor, Ada Colau, made by Denise Nestor for 'Politico' (by Politico)

Ada Colau fifth-most influential person in Europe according to ‘Politico’

The Mayor of the Catalan capital, Ada Colau, is the fifth-most influential person in Europe for 2017, according to ‘Politico’. “The future of Spain could well rest on [Colau’s] shoulders”, foresees this renowned publication and notes that “with a referendum on Catalonia’s independence on the cards for next year”, Colau’s condition as a “popular, outspoken and independent leader gives her a powerful voice”. However, ‘Politico’ emphasises that Colau’s “vague” position regarding Catalonia’s independence, which according to the publication is “the hottest issue in the region”, “may be hard to maintain” and predicts that “she will not be able to avoid choosing sides as the debate heats up”. The ranking of the 28 most influential people for 2017 also include London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan, who tops the ranking, and other personalities such as Turkey’s President, Recept Tayyip Erdogan and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini.

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  • Leader of the IRB ‘Cancer and Stem cells’ team, Salvador Aznar Benitah and researcher Gloria Pascual, at their laboratory in Barcelona (by ACN)

    Catalan scientists discover that saturated fat fuels the spread of cancer

    A group of scientists from the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) at the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology have identified a population of oral tumour cells which may feast on fats to spread throughout the body — a process called metastasis. According to the study, published this Wednesday in the prestigious scientific magazine ‘Nature’, some of these cells expressed high levels of a molecule called CD36, which helps cells to take up lipids from their environment. The research shows that applying antibodies that block CD36 and eliminate its interaction with fatty acids resulted in a reduced number of metastatic focus and also reduced their size by around 80% to 90%. “If we cut the lipids supply to those cells which generate metastasis they are practically unable to spread”, the leader of the IRB ‘Cancer and Stem cells’ team, Salvador Aznar Benitah, explained. 

  • The delegate of the Catalan Government to the UK and Ireland, Sergi Marcén, during an interview with the CNA (by aCN)

    Head of Catalonia’s delegation to UK explains independence process at Westminster

    The Scottish National Party (SNP) MP, George Kerevan, invited the delegate of the Catalan Government to the UK and Ireland, Sergi Marcén, to explain Catalonia’s current situation to a group of British MPs. The meeting, which took place on Tuesday at Westminster, aimed at giving information to the MPs regarding the independence debate going on in Catalonia and, mainly, the Catalan Government’s wish to hold a referendum on independence. “We did not tell them about [Catalonia’s] independence, but about the referendum process”, Marcén explained in an interview with the Catalan News Agency. According to Marcén, “the democratic tradition” of the UK is “so powerful” that the “most surprising” thing for British MPs is “the lack of a negotiating table” with Spain to “reach an agreement and hold a referendum”.

  • Catalan Government Spokeswoman, Neus Munté, during the interview with the ACN on the 7th of December 2016 (by ACN)

    Government “surprised” that Spanish Vice President is meeting the opposition before the Catalan executive

    The so-called ‘operation dialogue’ launched by the Spanish executive aims for Spain’s executive to have a greater presence in Catalonia. In line with this purpose, Spanish Vice President and recently named Minister for Territorial Administrations, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, travelled to Barcelona this Wednesday. However, despite having committed to holding a meeting with her Catalan counterpart, Oriol Junqueras, Sáenz de Santamaría hasn’t even made a date for such a meeting. On the other hand, she met first with the opposition’s leader, Inés Arrimadas and with the Catalan Socialists’ leader, Miquel Iceta. The Catalan Government’s spokeswoman, Neus Munté, considered it “surprising” but “congratulated” Saénz de Santamaría for her “initiative” especially after the Spanish executive’s “enormous absence” in this sense. “Confrontation and using the courts have been the only answers so far”, lamented Munté.

Highlights

  • Job Centre in Barcelona (by ACN)

    02.12.16 - 18:47

    Unemployment in Catalonia rises by 4,573 people in November

    Unemployment in Catalonia increased by 4,573 people in November and reached 462,969 individuals registered on the lists of the Catalan Public Employment Service (SOC). According to the data released by the Spanish Employment Ministry and Social Security, unemployment saw a 1% rise in monthly terms. This increase in jobseekers is the highest registered in November since 2013. The Catalan Secretary General of Employment, Social Affairs and...

  • The Greek MEP Kostas Chrysogonos speaks with the CNA in the European Parliament in Brussels (by ACN)

    01.12.16 - 19:50

    European Parliament calls for compensation for citizens affected by disasters such as the Castor Project

    The European Parliament passed this Thursday a text, promoted by the Greek MEP Kostas Chrysogonos, which explicitly reports the Castor case and the thousand earthquakes suffered by the locals in Valencia and Catalonia’s Ebro Delta. This business project, consisting of an offshore facility that had to store 1.3 billion cubic metres of reserve gas for Spain, failed after causing over 1,000 small earthquakes. The European...

  • The delegate of the Spanish Government in Catalonia, Enric Millo, making a statement during his visit to the command headquarters of the Guardia Civil in Catalonia on the 30th of November 2016 (by ACN) 

    01.12.16 - 19:14

    Spain may contest referendum budget allocations

    The legal services of the State Attorney are already “studying” the impugnation of the Catalan Government’s draft budget for 2017, which includes an allocation of €5.8 million to guarantee that the independence referendum scheduled for September will be carried out. The announcement was made on Wednesday by the delegate of the Spanish Government in Catalonia, Enric Millo, who stated that this part of the accounts...

  • Cranes working at Port de Barcelona (by ACN)

    30.11.16 - 19:51

    Catalonia, the third most important destination for British investment in Spain

    There has been a recent turn in British investment in Catalonia. While Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from the United Kingdom in the region was on a downward trend between 2013 and last June, the situation has reversed and Catalonia currently accounts for 4,4% of British FDI in Spain. Indeed, Catalonia is the third territory of Spain in terms of volume of British FDI. Ahead of Catalonia, stand only Madrid and the Basque...

  • Spanish Government Vice President and Minister for Territorial Administrations, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría (by ACN)

    30.11.16 - 19:44

    Spanish Government reiterates its wish for “dialogue”, but closes door to a referendum that would “liquidate the nation”

    The Spanish Government is willing to “dialogue” with the Catalan Government, but has closed the door to a self-determination referendum, because it “liquidates the essence of the [Spanish] nation”, said the Spanish Vice President, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, this Wednesday. Requested by the Catalan Socialist MP Meritxell Batet and the spokesman of the...

  • The Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, answering a question in the Catalan Parliament

    30.11.16 - 17:56

    Puigdemont questions Spain’s willingness to dialogue as it doesn’t include bilateral negotiation with Catalonia

    The Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, is suspicious regarding Spain’s executive willingness to dialogue. During this Wednesday’s session of control in the Parliament, Puigdemont stated that Catalonia deserves a bilateral negotiation with the Government in Madrid and that he considers anything other than this a way to “dilute and disguise what is really going on” in Catalonia and...

  • USB stick and tablet containing 2017 budget (by ACN)

    29.11.16 - 14:23

    Government budget for 2017 allocates €5.8 M for pro-independence referendum

    The Government’s draft budget for 2017 presented to the Parliament's President, Carme Forcadell, this Tuesday includes an allocation of €5.8 million to guarantee that the pro-independence referendum scheduled for September will be carried out. In particular, the bill establishes €5 million for electoral processes and €0.8 million for participation. Moreover, the budget also...

  • Norwegian airplane at Lleida-Alguaire airport, western Catalonia (by ACN).

    28.11.16 - 18:26

    Norwegian Airlines to double its workforce at Barcelona Airport to 755 employees in 2017

    Norwegian Airlines will double its workforce at Barcelona Airport, from the current 354 people to 755 in August 2017. The announcement was made this Monday by the Vice President of Human Resources of the company, Jan Dahm-Simonsen, during the press conference on the expansion of the airline offices at the installation in Prat de Llobregat. The 755 jobs Norwegian Airlines will have at the company headquarters in Southern Europe, in...

  • A nurse at the Hospital Vall d'Hebron (Barcelona) takes a sample of buccal mucosa to the daughter of a disappeared during the Spanish Civil War (by ACN)

    25.11.16 - 17:07

    Catalonia begins DNA testing to identify Spanish Civil War victims

    80 years after the Spanish Civil War broke out, there are still 4,912 missing victims and more than 5,000 families continue to search for their relatives. The Hospital Vall d'Hebron in Barcelona has started to perform genetic tests on relatives of the missing in order to identify remains buried in mass graves. In the past two weeks, specialists have taken samples of the saliva of 80 elderly people in Barcelona. Most of them are siblings or...

  • 'Lasarte's chef Paolo Casagrande and his most influential teacher, chef Martin Berasategui, celebrating the restaurant's third Michelin star (by ACN)

    24.11.16 - 11:06

    ‘Lasarte’ becomes first restaurant in Barcelona with three Michelin stars

    Catalan gastronomy got reinforced and gained even more prestige in the presentation of the Spain and Portugal Michelin Guide 2017, one of the most important events on the world’s gastronomic calendar. There are now 67 restaurants awarded with a Michelin star in Catalonia. The most important ‘star’ went to ‘Lasarte’ Barcelona, which joins the select group of those outlets which have three ‘macarons’...

  • Messi scored twice to complete his first century of international goals for FC Barcelona (by FCB)

    24.11.16 - 10:57

    Celtic FC 0-2 FC Barcelona: Group C champions!

    Two goals from Leo Messi see off a brave challenge from the Scots and coupled with Man City’s draw in Germany the Catalans clinch a seeded berth in the round of sixteen FC Barcelona have won 2-0 at Celtic Park. And not only does that send them through to the knockout stages of the Champions league for the thirteenth  time in a row, but Manchester City’s 1-1 draw in Monchengladbach means that...

  • Archive image of euro coins (by ACN)

    23.11.16 - 18:18

    Economic growth forecast for 2016 adjusted upward to 3.4%

    The Catalan Ministry for Economy and Tax Office presented this Wednesday the data of the macroeconomic chart to be included in the budget for 2017, which the Catalan executive expects to pass next week.  According to this document, the Catalan economy’s expected growth will be 3.4%, 0.5% more than the growth forecast for the Spanish economy, which is expected to be 2.9%. Regarding 2017, the chart keeps the figure released last...

  • The Minister for Business and Knowledge, Jordi Baiget, and the president of the Port of Barcelona, Sixte Cambra, watching a ship passing through the Panama Canal (by ACN)

    22.11.16 - 19:14

    Catalonia strengthens trade ties with Japan and Central America

    Catalonia and Japan have renewed their business, cultural, touristic and research ties for the next three years, through the so-called ‘Japan Plan 2016-2019’. The Government presented the agreement, approved last 25th of October, on Monday and explained that it aims at boosting business promotion, investment attraction, tourism cooperation, student mobility and cultural and gastronomic exchange. While the presentation...

  • Cruise ships on Barcelona's Port (by J. Molina)

    22.11.16 - 14:49

    Barcelona to break cruise ship record in 2016 with 2.7 million passengers

    A total of 2.7 million cruise travellers will have passed through the Port of Barcelona by the end of 2016, a figure that represents an increase of about 9-10% over 2015 and marks a new record. This was announced on Monday by the president of the Port of Barcelona, ​​Sixte Cambra, who explained that until now the record stood at 2.6 million cruise passengers and was achieved in 2011. It is estimated that cruises this year will generate...

  • Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, together with Catalan Vice-president, Oriol Junqueras and Former Catalan President, Artur Mas, backed the PDECAT spokesman in the Spanish Parliament, Francesc Homs, shortly before his suplication vote (by ACN)

    22.11.16 - 14:29

    Spanish Constitutional Court has 45 pending appeals relating to Catalonia

    “The Spanish Government is maintaining its judicial offensive against the Catalan Government and no one is sitting at the table but the Government of Catalonia”, reported the Catalan Government spokeswoman, Neus Munté, this Tuesday. The statement comes after Catalonia’s Supreme Court (TSJC) notified the president of the Parliament, Carme Forcadell, that she will have to testify on the 16th of December for...

  • The President of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Forcadell, attending the press this Wednesday 19th of October 2016 (by ACN).

    22.11.16 - 14:27

    Parliament’s President to testify before the court on 16 December

    Catalonia’s Supreme Court (TSJC) has called the Parliament’s President, Carme Forcadell, to testify before the court on Friday the 16th of December. She is accused of “disobeying” a Spanish Constitutional Court (TC) ruling when allowing the conclusions of the committee to study the constitutive process to be assessed in the Parliament. The Court also requests testimony from the second Vice-president of the...