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.
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12.06.2013 - 10.06 pm
David Cameron: "let the people decide" and do not "ignore questions of nationality, independence, identity"
The British Prime Minister David Cameron answered a question referring to Scotland’s self-determination process and he indirectly compared it to Catalonia’s situation. He stated that he “doesn’t believe” that trying “to ignore these questions of nationality, independence, identity” is the right way. Cameron thinks “it’s right to make your arguments, take them on and then you let the people decide”. However, without being asked about it, he linked it to the Catalan case by adding he “would never presume to tell people in Spain how to meet these challenges themselves”. He concluded by saying that “it’s a matter for the Spanish Government and the Spanish Prime Minister” to decide how to handle the situation.
12.06.2013 - 09.17 pm
The FC Barcelona player denies having evaded taxes. “We have not committed an offence” and “we have always honoured our fiscal obligations” stated Lionel Messi in a note published on his Facebook account. On Wednesday, the Public Prosecution Office accused the Argentinean football player and his father Jorge Horacio Messi of not having paid €4 million to the Spanish Tax Agency in 2007, 2008 and 2009. The Prosecution Office believes they hid “important revenue” deriving from image rights and “simulated” signing over the image rights to societies based in fiscal havens such as Belize or Uruguay or with addresses in countries particularly permissive with such societies such as the United Kingdom and Switzerland.
11.06.2013 - 10.43 pm
The pact between Columbus and the Catholic Monarchs prior to America’s discovery on show in Barcelona
An exhibition, with documents dating from between the 10th century and 1493, displays the oldest preserved copy of the ‘Capitulations of Santa Fe’. This agreement was signed by the Catholic Kings in April 1492 and accepted Christopher Columbus’ terms to undertake the trip after which Europeans would become aware of the Americas. The document granted Columbus the titles of Admiral, Viceroy and Governor-General of all the lands he would discover and set that he would keep a tenth of all future profits. The copy dates from 1493 and it is only rarely on display. It has been kept in the Archives of the Aragon Crown in Barcelona and now is on show along with 42 other documents showing the symbolic conception of travelling in the Middle Ages.
11.06.2013 - 10.16 pm
The President of the Catalan Government aims to stay in office regardless of the self-determination vote
Artur Mas, President of the Catalan Government, presented the Government Plan for 2013-2016 on Tuesday, emphasising that he aims to complete the four-year office term regardless of whether Catalonia’s self-determination vote is finally held in 2014, as the governing Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) planned with the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC). With the Plan, Mas has set 77 objectives in seven different areas, aiming to reaffirm political leadership and show the Catalan Government’s actions in a wide range of areas such as economic recovery, job creation, public services, environment protection, etc. Mas also asked the ERC and the Catalan Socialists (PSC) to sit in the Catalan Government. All the opposition parties except the ERC criticised the Plan.