The Union for the Mediterranean launches a project to train logistic sector workers in Northern Africa
The €6.6 million project will last for 6 years and will start in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. It aims to strengthen the training of logistics sector workers in 10 countries in the Southern Mediterranean area. During the project’s presentation in Barcelona, the European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbouring Policy, Stefan Füle, asked for a greater financial commitment from the 43 countries that are members of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM). He lamented that “it is not healthy” that the European Commission continues to be the main funding source for the UfM. Three years after unveiling its permanent Secretariat in the Catalan capital, the UfM is starting its first projects.
The Spanish Public Prosecution Office accuses the governing Catalan Nationalist Party CDC of corruption
After a four-year investigation, the Public Prosecution Office – which comes under the jurisdiction of the Spanish Ministry of Justice – is accusing Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya (CDC), the main force within the two-party coalition Convergència i Unió (CiU) which runs the Catalan Government, of having received €6.6 million in “illegal commission” from the construction company Ferrovial. CDC immediately denied the accusations, stating they have never received hidden money, not the party or its think-tank, the CatDem Foundation. In addition, they lamented the fact that the Public Prosecutor is basing the accusation “on speculations and mere conjecture” and that “it is not backed by any evidence”.
Catalonia paves the road for 'BCN World' $6 billion resort by issuing the urban project and reducing casino taxes
On Thursday, the Catalan Government published the new legal project for the area where ‘BCN World’ will be built, in order to modify the existing town-planning project and other rules. In addition, it will also modify the current taxes on gambling, dropping them from a maximum rate of 55% to 10%. The modification of such taxes was one of the changes the Catalan Government had promised international investors in order to develop the mega resort, which will see the construction of 6 casinos and hotels the size of those in Las Vegas. In addition, the resort will have golf courses, a beach club, a marina, a smart residential city area, shopping centres, theatres, conference centres and other attractions. Two weeks ago, the first three international investors participating in the project were announced. Plans are to start construction of the first casino in September.
The new facilities are the second longest building in the Catalan capital, as it is 186 metres long. Desigual’s new headquarters are located on prime real estate, just in front of Barceloneta beach and next to the W Hotel. They will initially host 840 employees but at a later stage they will host up to 1,500 people. The building is split into 6 storeys and occupies 24,400 square metres. According to Desigual’s President, Thomas Meyer, the building is inspired by the retail company’s values such as “positivity, respect, compromise and constant improvement”. The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, attended the unveiling event and praised Desigual for combining the “informality” of its clothing style with the “seriousness” of a company with shops in more than 100 countries.
“Having a winning team is the beginning of the formula that leads us to success,” says FC Barcelona President Sandro Rosell at the press conference overviewing the 2012-2013 season. “We’re adopting a management model that adjusts to the reality that surrounds us, that’s viable, sustainable and responsible,” he states. Rosell highlighted the increase in revenue due to sponsorships.
With the Pet Shop Boys, Kraftwerk, 2 ManyDJs, Jurassic 5 and Laurent Garnier as guaranteed crowd pullers, the 20th edition of the Sonar Festival was a success waiting to happen. But the record-breaking attendance figures and the smooth transition from downtown Barcelona to the Fira de Barcelona’s Montjuic venue went way beyond organisers’ expectations. More than 121,000 festival-goers attended the electronic music event, which represents a 24% compared to last year’s figures. Furthermore, around 55% of the attendees were foreigners, with a great presence of people from the United Kingdom, France and Italy, but also from the United States, Australia, Russia and many other countries.
Poor road conditions and a high rate of traffic accidents have led the Catalan Government to approve a strict circulation restriction for four axle lorries throughout 90 kilometers (56 miles) of the N-II, a road linking Madrid with Barcelona and the French border, which has only one lane per direction. Although the measure is of temporary character, it has outraged roadside shopkeepers and lorry drivers, but neighbors from towns close to the highly-frequented road totally support it. According to the Catalan Ministry for Public Works, now is the moment for the widening project of the road drawn up by the Spanish Government in 1995 to be restarted after years of delay due to a lack of funding in order to improve road conditions for the main entrance road to Spain from France.
Barcelona Chamber of Commerce accuses the Spanish Government of owing €4 billion for investments in Catalonia
According to the current legislation, the Spanish Government has to invest 18.9% of its total transport infrastructure budget in Catalonia between 2007 and 2013 in order to compensate for an historical lack of such investments. However, according to the Spanish Transport Ministry’s budget execution reports and the projections made by the Chamber, the Spanish Government is far from honouring this legal obligation. Not only have investments in Catalonia not increased in relative terms, but they have been reduced to a “historical minimum”. While the planned budget for transport investments has been reduced by an average of 36% throughout Spain due to the economic crisis, in Catalonia it has dropped by 50%. Furthermore, 87% of the planned budget was executed throughout Spain, while in Catalonia Madrid only executed 68% of it.
10.06.2013 - 09.51 pm
In an interview with ACN, the Head of the EU Foreign Policy Unit of the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), Steven Blockmans argued that “the European Union or the United Nations could play this role” if “both parties, including Madrid, voluntarily accept it”. Besides, Blockmans explained that Catalonia’s and Scotland’s self-determination processes and the possibility that they become independent states “is being debated” in Brussels circles, and it is even mentioned “often”. In addition, he also stated that if Madrid agrees, “a summit would be enough” to take “the political decision” to allow an independent Catalonia to become an EU Member State.
07.06.2013 - 09.43 pm
Canadian payment systems company Transax to set up business in Barcelona's 22@ technological district
The company working on creating mobile applications and payment systems will arrive in the Catalan capital in July. It will start by creating 75 direct jobs but its plans are to gradually increase staff figures. Transax will operate from Barcelona to Europe, the Middle East and Latin America. The Catalan Government’s Invest in Catalonia programme has facilitated the Canadian company’s arrival. Furthermore, the Catalan Business Minister emphasised that Catalonia was the European region that received the greatest direct foreign investment in 2012, according to a report by the Financial Times.
07.06.2013 - 09.02 pm
The European Union's Mies van der Rohe Architecture Award celebrates its 25th anniversary in Barcelona
The Catalan capital hosts the Mies van der Rohe Foundation, which delivers this award with the European Commission every two years. Reykjavik’s new Concert Hall and Conference Centre ‘The Harp’, designed by Henning Larsen Architects, Studio Olafur Eliasson and Batterrío, won the 2013 Mies van der Rohe Award, which comes with €60,000 and a small sculpture reproducing the pavilion created by the German architect in Barcelona. In addition, the Spanish architects María Langarita and Víctor Navarro won the Special Mention Award for Young Talent for their music academy in Madrid’s former slaughterhouse (Matadero). The award ceremony took place in Barcelona’s Mies van der Rohe pavilion, in Montjuic.
07.06.2013 - 08.17 pm
The Catalan company, which is the main bank operating in the Spanish market, will sell half of its shares in the Mexican GFI, the financial group owned by the billionaire Carlos Slim. Caixabank currently controls 20% of the GFI shares. The Catalan bank has confirmed it will sell 3.7% of GF Inbursa to Inmobiliaria Carso, which is also owned by the Slim family, for €387 million, corresponding to 250 million shares. With this operation, Caixabank will earn a capital gain of €33 million. Besides, the Catalan bank aims to sell another 6.4% of GIF shares to institutional and retail investors from Mexico and international markets. After completing both sales, Caixabank will control between 9% and 9.9% of GFI.