Catalonia

The Correfoc Report 29-Feb-2024
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Supreme Court terrorism proceedings against Puigdemont (Catalan News 29-Feb)
Water cut 80% in agriculture, 5% home (France24 02-Feb)
Farmers on both sides block French border (euronews 29-Feb)
The Correfoc's View
The proceedings against Puigdemont and former MP Ruben Wagensberg are flimsy. In 2019 a group named Tsunami Democràtic organised protests which, perhaps predictably, turned into small riots. The terrorism accusation comes from the idea that these protests caused unlawful restraint, disruption to air services and traffic at the airport. The Correfoc thinks this sounds more like rioting. The court also cites that these rioters threw “dangerous instruments and devices with similar destructive potential as explosives” such as “fire extinguishers, glass, [and] metal trolleys”. Calm down, Pepe, that’s a riot, not terrorism. It’s not at all good, but it’s hardly 9/11 and charging Puigdemont and Wagensberg with that stretches credibility.
Fun Fact: Spanish PM Sanchez announced the creation of a new LLM AI trained in the Catalan language (Catalan News 26-Feb)


The Correfoc Report 31-Jan-2024
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Separatists vote against amnesty bill (AP 30-Jan)
$2.6bn P/A to cope with drought (Bloomberg 30-Jan)
Concern over Kosovo passport re Catalonia (Euractiv 09-Jan)
The Correfoc's View
The separatists believe that the amnesty bill did not go far enough e.g. protecting the exiled President Puigdemont on return to Catalonia. They may be right, but this vote is embarrassing for the Spanish PM who is very tenuously in place with a scrabbled-together, desperate coalition. The Correfoc understands why the separatists can’t accept the bill if it doesn’t go as far as promised. The Correfoc also understands that there’s probably only so much it’s possible for the separatists to get out of a weak government.
Fun Fact: Catalan nanobots reduced tumours by 90% in mice (Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News 15-Jan)


The Correfoc Report 31-Dec-2023
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Income tax cut for most workers (Local 07-Dec)
Catalonia to pursue referendum (FT 12-Dec)
Kyoto collaboration deal (Catalan News 01-Dec
The Correfoc's View
The Kyoto-Catalonia collaboration deal is symbolic at best. The Correfoc is more interested in what pursuit of a referendum could mean. Haven’t the independence parties, which have governed Catalonia since 2017, always been pursuing their right (as they see it) to a referendum? What will the independence movement make of some polling info? Only 21% of Catalans would vote for the Spanish Constitution if a referendum were held again (Catalan News 06-Dec). The Correfoc doesn’t think this is enough for the independence movement yet.
Fun Fact: After the success of the Hypatia I project which sent Catalan researchers to the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, Hypatia II is now seeking new (female) applicants (PR 19-Dec)


The Correfoc Report 30-Nov-2023
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Sanchez deal with separatists to stay Spain’s PM (Euractiv 02-Nov)
1/3 say they were crime victims in ‘22 (Departament d'Interior 29-Nov)
New govt delegation in SK (Catalan News 27-Nov)
The Correfoc's View
The amnesty and coalition deal have heightened political tensions. A prominent unionist ex-politician, Alejandro Vidal-Quadras, was shot in the face (CNN 09-Nov). In a separate incident a Spanish military officer was arrested with a pistol at a protest outside the Socialist Party headquarters (Reuters 19-Nov). The Correfoc doesn’t take this very seriously, but a group of retired military officers have called for a coup against Sanchez (Daily Telegraph 17-Nov). They think he’s failing to defend democracy and the constitutional order. This is easily remedied if that’s all the nationalists care about. All the new coalition has to do is change the law through the existing, agreed political means which they now govern.
Fun Fact: Lluc Crusellas was awarded the title of World's Best Master Chocolatier in 2022, the youngest ever, and now he is opening a new shop and workshop, Eukarya, in Barcelona (Catalan News 27-Nov)


The Correfoc Report 31-Oct-2023
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
10s of thousands protest amnesty deal (Reuters 08-Oct)
Comsa, FCC, Ferrovial JV €540m rail tunnel deal (Ground Engineering 18-Oct)
Court investigates alleged ex-spy chief snooping (Reuters 16-Oct)
The Correfoc's View
Protests against amnesty deals show how difficult this current political situation still is. It has been a long time since Oct-2017 and the failed referendum attempt. The recent results of the Spanish national elections, and failures to form a government, must be another provocation. Catalan representatives align with a left which cannot gather enough support, but also block the right. The Correfoc won’t be surprised to see another election on the way in the near future, but would results be significantly different?
Fun Fact: A museum will open in Barcelona where you can visit entirely in the nude (El País 17-Oct)


The Correfoc Report 30-Sep-2023
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Spanish conservatives fail to form government (Reuters 29-Sep)
Catalonia creating a new financial hub (Catalan News 07-Sep)
Sustainable Aviation Fuel industry construction starts (International Airport Review 06-Sep)
The Correfoc's View
The conservative failure is an opportunity for the Catalan separatist parties. The Correfoc doesn’t think they can be much more optimistic. The best they may be able to extract is an amnesty deal for the likes of Carles Puigdemont, the Catalan President at the time of the failed bid for independence in 2017. This is not very ambitious or forward-looking.
Fun Fact: Permission was granted for the first time for the Catalan language to be spoken in the Spanish parliament (Times 19-Sep)


The Correfoc Report 31-Aug-2023
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Draft bill to allow Catalan spoken in Congress (Catalan News 31-Aug)
Tourism industry 'really positive' summer (Catalan News 28-Aug)
Drought emergency in 24 towns and water cuts (AP 02-Aug)
The Correfoc's View
There has been a lot of wrangling at the Spanish national political level. Partido Popular was invited to form a government. Many expect it to fail because it likely won’t find enough support among other parties to form a majority coalition. Many also think that this makes Catalan independence parties kingmakers. The Correfoc is less sure and thinks there is little to gain.
Fun Fact: Catalan nudists are campaigning against disrespectful clothed people at their beaches (Guardian 11-Aug)


The Correfoc Report 31-Jul-2023
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Separatists key to PM Sanchez 3rd term after election (Reuters 26-Jul)
EU to reimpose road tolls in 2024 (TV3 13-Jul)
Renfe to start Barcelona-Lyon train operations (El País 13-Jul)
The Correfoc's View
It looks like there are some games being played around arrest warrants and the exiled separatists. The pro-independence parties are keeping a united front so far. Clara Ponsatí MEP was arrested and then released. Puigdemont says independence supporters won’t give in to blackmail. The independence movement is in a relatively good position.
Fun Fact: There is a Catalan saying ‘amb la panxa buida no hi ha alegria’ - ‘you can’t be happy if your stomach is empty’ (National Geographic 12-Jul)


The Correfoc Report 30-Jun-2023
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Record rents in Barcelona (TheMayor.EU 26-Jun)
More solar panels installed in 2022 than in previous 20 years (OBERCat 22-Jun)
Barcelona clamps down on cannabis tourism (El País 19-Jun)
The Correfoc's View
Spain introduced a new law to cap the rate of increase in rents. Rent controls cause other problems. The Correfoc expects worse to come if Spain goes down this route. Unfortunately it’s likely to keep getting worse. The number of people coming in by plane is almost at pre-pandemic levels. Even if most of this is tourism it will still increase competition for space. The Correfoc doesn’t expect introduction or increase of new tourism-related taxes at a time when people want to win tourists back. Catalonia will have to find another solution.
Fun Fact: Google Maps now has a Catalan language voice option (Catalan News 22-Jun)


The Correfoc Report 31-May-2023
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Catalonia & Occitania back high-speed train (Catalan News 17-May)
Fruit growers arrested for using illegal wells (EU Reporter 12-May)
Cuba signs collaboration agreement with Catalonia (Prensa Latina 26-May)
The Correfoc's View
Socialists and the ‘far right’ made the biggest gains in recent local elections. The Correfoc thinks this is more indicative of general economic and other difficulty, not anything unique to Catalonia.
Fun Fact: FGC named one of its trains ‘Albert Einstein’ at a ceremony held at the Placa Catalunya Station, commemorating Einstein’s visit to the city exactly one hundred years ago (TheMayor.EU 04-May)


The Correfoc Report 30-Apr-2023
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
50% anti, 43% pro independence, 77% want referendum (Euractiv 06-Apr)
Rabbit overpopulation (Euro Weekly News 24-Apr)
Catalonia launch 5G satellite (Globe Live Media 15-Apr)
The Correfoc's View
Water is now rationed (France24 19-Apr), 24% of drinking water is leaking (Catalan News 05-Apr) and now Catalonia is at risk of rabbit overpopulation. Farming is certainly going to suffer.
The poll numbers are promising for the pro-independence side. It would be quite a risk for unionists if there was a referendum.
Fun Fact: Barcelona City Council have agreed to name a street or square after Freddie Mercury (Catalan News 02-Apr)


The Correfoc Report 31-Mar-2023
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Catalan Cooperation Fund backs Western Sahara (Catalan News 05-Mar)
Cyberattack hits major hospital in Spanish city of Barcelona (AP 06-Mar)
Operation to clear fish from reservoir to save drinking water (Guardian 14-Mar)
The Correfoc's View
Taking sides in a long-standing frozen conflict in a diplomatically sensitive part of the world is risky for the Catalan govt. It has maintained trade representative offices which look an awful lot like proto-embassies in pedestrian places like London, but this is different. This kind of action may conflict with the Spanish states’ interests and plans, even if superficially aligned. Is the Catalan govt ready for the money to be misused, go missing, fund crime, or violent terrorism?
Meanwhile, the drought continues. Water reserves are getting so low that old church towers are re-emerging (Reuters 17-Mar). Hospitals and pharmacies (Catalan News 22-Mar) are under cyber attack. The Correfoc thinks that the Catalan govt should get things right at home first before going abroad.
Fun Fact: Over 100 pre-historic engravings were found in a cave called Cova de la Vila, in La Febró, a small village near Tarragona, by a team from the Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution (El País 17-Mar)


The Correfoc Report 28-Feb-2023
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Govt water restrictions, drought (Anadolu Agency 28-Feb)
Renfe aims to start Barcelona/France rail link before summer (Catalan News 13-Feb)
Catalonia plans green bonds for return to international debt market (Bloomberg 20-Feb)
The Correfoc's View
Much of Europe is suffering from crop shortfalls, partially due to lack of rain and drought, not just in the Iberian Peninsula. In Catalonia, for example, olive growers warn that crops could be half what they were last year, and the worst for 15 years (Olive Oil Times 04-Feb).
In the meantime, the govt will support 41,000 families with their energy bills by cancelling their debt (La Vanguardia 11-Feb). This only amounts to €18m, a small amount really, but perhaps a good political move.
Fun Fact: In French Catalonia they celebrate the Fêtes de l’Ours which tells the story of how a bear kidnapped women but, with the help of a hunter, the women are returned, and the bear shaved and turned into a human (Lonely Planet 15-Feb)


The Correfoc Report 31-Jan-2022
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Puigdemont sedition charges dropped after penal code change (EFE 12-Jan)
EU investigators going to Spain re spying on independence (Catalan News 24-Jan)
EU court: arrest warrants deniable with proof of risk of rights violation (Catalan News 31-Jan)
The Correfoc's View
Both the Spanish govt and independence movement are claiming victory after the EU court ruling. The Spanish govt say that this endorses the Spanish legal system. They believe that there is no risk of rights violations in Spain. The independence movement disagree. The Correfoc thinks that the Spanish will have to work very hard to explain how, in 2017, battering people and squashing a democratic vote did not show risks of rights violations.
Fun Fact: Catalonia launched its second nanosatellite, called Menut (Catalan News 03-Jan)


The Correfoc Report 31-Dec-2022
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Penal code reforms soften penalties for separatist leaders (AP 22-Dec)
Barcelona-Marseille hydrogen pipe to cost €2.5bn (Catalan News 12-Dec)
FDI up nearly 14% in 2022 (Catalan News 20-Dec)
The Correfoc's View
The Correfoc suspects that softening of penalties means that the Spanish govt is not at all fearful of the independence movement. Increasing FDI and large infrastructure are a double-sided risk. It increases Catalonia’s functional ability to be independent, theoretically. It also makes people fear they have something to lose if they disrupt the status quo, theoretically. The promises to keep pursuing independence by President Aragonès are perhaps just routine (El Nacional 27-Dec).
Fun Fact: The Catalan Xuixo pastry (pronounced ‘shoo shoo’) is said to be named after sneezing (Tasting Table 25-Dec)


The Correfoc Report 30-Nov-2022
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Spain's PM seeks to replace sedition in penal code (Reuters 10-Nov)
Spain risks falling short on promise of EU recovery funds (FT 28-Nov)
Catalonia to impose water restrictions to fight drought (The Local 22-Nov)
The Correfoc's View
Easing up on those prosecuted for the 2017 referendum would be a good olive branch. On the other hand, failing to deliver on financial obligations to Catalonia is obviously unfriendly. The Correfoc is still sceptical. In the meantime, new biogas infrastructure (PR 24-Nov), and growing numbers of foreign companies (Catalan News 18-Nov) is good for Catalonia.
Fun Fact: Discovered in Catalonia, an ancient turtle species, Leviathanochelys aenigmatica, which lived sometime between 72.1m and 83.6m years ago, during the era of dinosaurs was as big as 4m long (New Scientist 17-Nov)


The Correfoc Report 31-Oct-2022
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Green energy corridor favoured over MidCat gas pipeline (Catalan News 20-Oct)
Undersea fibre optic cables ready to connect (Catalan News 13-Oct)
Snap election ruled out after govt coalition breakdown (Reuters 07-Oct)
The Correfoc's View
The public reason for the govt split is differences over how to pursue independence. The energy and momentum around independence isn’t what it used to be. The Correfoc doesn’t think it’ll return any time soon.
Authorities say it will take 7 years to build the new green pipeline from Catalonia to France. It will carry gas and electricity as well as hydrogen. Covering all the options sounds like an upgrade to the MidCat concept.
Fun Fact: Catalan scientist, Manel Torres, invented the technology used during Coperni SS23 fashion show to design live costume on model Bella Hadid (Vogue Business 01-Oct)


The Correfoc Report 30-Sep-2022
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Catalonia asks Spanish govt for new referendum agreement (Reuters 27-Sep)
Spanish congress to investigate spying on Catalan politicians (El Punt Avui 15-Sep)
President announces new public energy company (Catalan News 19-Sep)
The Correfoc's View
The Correfoc expects the Nord Stream sabotage will boost the case for the MidCat pipeline. Before the sabotage, France said that it didn’t like the idea (Reuters 13-Sep), and Macron called it “nonsense”. The MidCat pipeline would certainly compete with France’s nuclear power, but the pressure may now be too big. Energy is a difficult problem across Europe, even in the warm Mediterranean. A new publicly owned Catalan energy company will probably be very popular. Economic turmoil and war often come with political volatility. Catalan independence seems far away but there’s always an opportunity when things get shaken up.
Fun Fact: The forecasts for mushroom-picking, a traditional Catalan pass-time, is very good this year – the crop is expected to be almost double the average (Catalan News 21-Sep)


The Correfoc Report 30-Jun-2022
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
EU approves Spain/Portugal deal to decrease electricity bills (Catalan News 08-Jun)
Barcelona cruise ship tax (Travel Weekly 06-Jun)
2nd nanosatellite to focus on climate change (Catalan News 14-Jun)
The Correfoc's View
Aerospace keeps getting more interesting in Catalonia. Lleida-Alguaire Airport will be flying drones later this year. In preparation for that it will upgrade its traffic management systems, including for uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) (Catalan News 23-Jun). Air Nostrum is also going to launch a zeppelin service between Barcelona and Mallorca, starting in 2026 (Catalan News 26-Jun). They will carry 100 people, take 4 hours compared to a 50 mins commercial jet. On the other hand, it will reduce carbon emissions by 90%. Now they just need to resolve strike issues for today’s more regular air travel (CCMA 26-Jun).
Fun Fact: The Catalonia government is building its own metaverse (Cointelegraph 27-Jun)


The Correfoc Report 31-May-2022
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Spain short-changes Catalonia 65% in public spending (Catalan News 31-May)
Law planned to protect historic shops as rents soar (Guardian 03-May)
€600m ILJIN battery factory (Catalan News 16-May)
The Correfoc's View
Spain’s spy chief was fired (Reuters 10-May) over the phone spying case. It looks like Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez’s phone was also hacked (FT 02-May). It is unclear if this was particularly aimed at Catalan politicians, all of them, or something else. The Correfoc doesn’t expect answers any time soon.
In the meantime, the Spanish government only spent 35% of the budget allocated for Catalonia for public spending in 2021. The Madrid region received 184%.
Fun Fact: Catalonia beat Jamaica 6-0 in football recently, and ahead of the match was asking for similar team recognition status as Wales or Scotland (L’Esportiu 06-May)


The Correfoc Report 30-Apr-2022
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Spain accused of spying on Catalan politician’s phones (New Yorker 18-Apr)
Maresme train line is falling into the sea (Times 08-Apr)
Spain, Portugal, & EU deal bring electricity bills down for a year (Catalan News 26-Apr)
The Correfoc's View
Spanish spying is not new or a surprise. See The Correfoc Report from Jan-22 or Jul-19. It’s a useful excuse for independence politicians to end dialogue for publicly acceptable reasons. It’s also more serious than before. It’s more evidence of a new level of spying. At first Spain denied it (The Local 20-Apr). Now it’s promising transparency in the probe into something which it says didn’t happen (Bloomberg 24-Apr). The Correfoc doesn’t expect anything from any kind of govt investigation.
Fun Fact: A calçotada is a traditional gastronomic festival to celebrate spring/the end of winter/return of better weather, where people eat a type of long onion (the calçot) which is burnt and covered in romesco sauce (Al Día 06-Apr)


The Correfoc Report 31-Mar-2022
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
JxCat party u-turns on deal to protect Catalan in schools (Catalan News 24-Mar)
Volkswagen battery factory to go to Valencia, not Catalonia (Bloomberg 23-Mar)
Spain seeks EU funding for Midcat pipeline (elDiario.es 08-Mar)
The Correfoc's View
A recent survey by Catalonia’s Centre for Opinion Studies found that 53.3% were against independence, and 38.8% for independence (PR 17-Mar). It’s diminished but not irredeemable. Energy prices keep sky rocketing (Catalan News 07-Mar) and the Spanish Constitutional Court vetoed a lot of the rent cap law (Catalan News 10-Mar). If Catalans feel culturally under attack all these kinds of factors could be made to work for independence. The strongest arguments for the unionists will be economic. It was hoped the battery factory would go to Catalonia. International gas supply (Midcat) could also be made to work for unionists. The Correfoc thinks everything is still to play for.
Fun Fact: Barça Women played Real Madrid Femenino at Camp Nou, their first ever match at Camp Nou, winning 5-2, and setting a world record crowd attendance, 91,553, for a women’s match (PR 30-Mar)


The Correfoc Report 28-Feb-2022
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Spain to accelerate the MidCat gas pipeline (La Vanguardia 05-Feb)
Drought warning, reservoirs half full (Catalan News 11-Feb)
Mastercard & govt deal to digitise the economy (yahoo!finance 01-Feb)
The Correfoc's View
Gas supply to Europe from North Africa, through Spain, through Catalonia, into France, looks very attractive right now. This is bad for the Catalan independence movement. Spain is also connecting gas supply with concerns about NATO focus and security in North Africa (also consider the migrant crisis) and the Sahel region. Catalan independence will be viewed as a risk at best and a threat at worst.
The Correfoc is also interested in the Mastercard deal, which includes blockchain tech projects. So far this is limited to “digitalisation of the agri-food value chain”. This won’t be very radical, though tech overhauls must start small and start somewhere. Again, how permissive will Spain be toward anything more genuinely decentralising and which threatens control of financial infrastructure?
Fun Fact: Queralt Castellet became the first Catalan to win a medal at a Winter Olympics, winning a silver in the snowboarding halfpipe test (Euro Weekly News 10-Feb)


The Correfoc Report 31-Jan-2022
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Ex-police commissioner: terrorism organised by secret service (El País 11-Jan)
President Aragonès says no 2nd chance for dialogue (La Vanguardia 13-Jan)
Covid health pass requirement dropped for daily affairs (The Local 27-Jan)
The Correfoc's View
José Manuel Villarejo is facing a 109 year prison sentence for a range of charges including bribery, forgery, extortion, influence peddling, and spying on and working to discredit a number of high profile Spanish politicians and businessmen. He’s also accused of being part of a network of corrupt politicians and businessmen nicknamed the “sewers of state”. His latest accusations are not totally dismissible. The Spanish govt is known to spy on the independence movement (Guardian 16-Jul-2020), and Villarejo was acquitted of libelling the head of Spain’s intelligence services by telling a TV show the head had threatened the life of King Juan Carlos’s ex-girlfriend. The Spanish govt’s behaviour during the 2017 referendum is internationally infamous.
Is Spain’s govt irredeemably corrupt? The accusation is that the terrorist attack in 2017 was supposed to scare Catalans into thinking they’re safer with Spain. Is the Spanish state depraved and desperate enough to try such a dangerous stunt?
Fun Fact: The village of Val d'Aran, population 10,000, on the northern slopes of the Pyrenees, but part of Catalonia, has its own language, Aranese, which is the 3rd officially recognised language of Catalonia (BBC 18-Jan)


The Correfoc Report 31-Dec-2021
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Catalan govt budget deal (Catalan News 16-Dec)
Protest against mandate for more Spanish in schools (AP 18-Dec)
Deutsche Windtechnik 400MW wind farm deal (Renewables Now 09-Dec)
The Correfoc's View
It’s a relatively muted end to the year. Rising costs in housing and energy prices are the main concerns, like much of the rest of the west. The price of electricity was set to break a new record high on 17-Dec (Catalan News 16-Dec). There is some relief in the budget deal. Lower taxes for lower income earners and €1bn housing investment. The Correfoc expects that things will get worse in 2022, like much of the rest of the world. Trouble is always an opportunity to make big political moves. It’s an opportunity for both the independence movement and unionists.
Fun Fact: It is traditional for children in Catalonia to beat the Tió de Nadal, Christmas Log, with a stick to make it poop presents (Culinary Backstreets 02-Dec)


The Correfoc Report 30-Nov-2021
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Roger Torrent indicted (CCMA 11-Nov)
Butterflies are vanishing (National Geographic 19-Nov)
Mossos d’Esquadra to grow 20%, 3,700 new officers (Catalan News 05-Nov)
The Correfoc's View
Roger Torrent is the current Business Minister and the ex-Speaker of the Catalan Parliament. He’s being indicted for allowing non-binding motions on expressing approval for independence and criticising the Spanish monarchy. This will keep feeding the perspective that Catalans are kept down. It also prevents the pro-independence movement from 1) showing support levels and 2) legitimising independence.
Electricity prices are becoming a bigger issue. Now there are public protests (Catalan News 04-Nov). Bear in mind that the Spanish government actively prevents people installing their own renewable sources and disconnecting from the grid. Disconnecting could help the independence movement.
Fun Fact: Catalonia has a sake (the Japanese alcohol) industry (Catalan News 06-Nov)


The Correfoc Report 31-Oct-2021
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Spanish 2022 budget gives Catalonia less than GDP share (Catalan News 14-Oct)
Spain denied enforcement of lèse majesté (Catalunya Ràdio 28-Oct)
500k fewer Catalan speakers since 2005 (Plataforma per la Llengua 26-Oct)
The Correfoc's View
Complaining about money won’t be enough for the independence movement. Plenty of other countries have imbalances with different regions. Is there a single example where this spurred on independence? The difference is usually that richer regions control the poorer ones. This isn’t the case with Catalonia. The prospects look worse if the cultural case is eroding as the Catalan language declines. Perhaps the independence movement should make a bold move and push for control of Spain. Move the capital from Madrid to Barcelona. There’s more than one way to achieve independence.
Fun Fact: The first colles castelleres (human towers) have gone up at the Plaza de Valls in Barcelona since the pandemic began (Euronews 25-Oct)


The Correfoc Report 30-Sep-2021
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Carles Puigdemont released from jail in Sardinia (Al Jazeera 24-Sep)
Spain approves 5-year airport plan that excludes Barcelona-El Prat expansion (Catalan News 28-Sep)
Electricity prices at all time high again (Catalan News 30-Sep)
The Correfoc's View
Talks began (New York Times 15-Sep) and the Correfoc still isn’t impressed. The independence parties aren’t entirely happy among themselves about who gets to attend and represent their side (Catalan News 14-Sep). The threat to ex-President Carles Puigdemont is obviously still real. He was arrested (on a legally valid warrant) on holiday. Was his release a gesture of good will or a reminder that Spain will crush any peaceful dissent?
Fun Fact: Catalonia is split across Spain and France; Spain isn’t the only country the Catalan independence movement will have to deal with (Times 05-Sep)


The Correfoc Report 31-Aug-2021
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Controversial Barcelona airport expansion agreed (Guardian 03-Aug)
Electricity prices hit all time high (Catalan News 26-Aug)
Roads becoming toll free (The Local 30-Aug)
The Correfoc's View
A quiet month. Another lost tourist season ends. The Correfoc looks forward to the resumption of talks between Catalonia and Spain, though nothing much is likely to come from it.
Fun Fact: Catalan beaches had a record number of endangered loggerhead sea turtle nests (Catalan News 13-Aug)


The Correfoc Report 31-Jul-2021
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Spain’s targeting of ex-Harvard prof provokes trans-Atlantic outcry (WSJ 05-Jul)
Spain extends eviction ban & rent moratorium (Catalan News 29-Jul)
Barcelona to close cannabis clubs after court ruling (El Diario 26-Jul)
The Correfoc's View
International sympathy could be a good bet for the Catalan independence movement. Spain wants to fine a number of ex-officials involved in the 2017 referendum with multimillion euro fines. When American intellectual (political) elites get interested, that’s risky. European institutions are also a good target (see last month’s report). The Correfoc thinks that more and smaller EU members (Catalan independence supporters would still want to be part of the EU) are good for France and Germany. However, they cannot do too much too quickly to annoy Spain, which is why MEP immunity has been suspended again by the EU court (La Vanguardia 30-Jul).
An improving economy (Catalan News 29-Jul) probably takes energy away from the Catalan independence movement. Spain also undermined the Catalan govt’s good-guy promises to pay rents for vulnerable households on the verge of eviction (Catalan News 28-Jul) by extending the eviction ban & rent moratorium. 
Fun Fact: 125 Catalan athletes are competing in the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics (Catalan News 19-Jul)


The Correfoc Report 30-Jun-2021
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Spanish govt pardons 9 jailed Catalan leaders (AP 22-Jun)
Spanish PM will never allow an independence vote (Olive Press 30-Jun)
Spain to challenge rent cap law (Catalan News 15-Jun)
The Correfoc's View
The 9’s pardon will be welcome but the situation was becoming untenable anyway e.g. the Council of Europe calling for the 9’s release (Catalan News 21-Jun). Spain is still threatening to seize the house, pension, and bank accounts of ex-finance minister Andreu Mas-Colell in retribution for authorising public funds to be spent on the 2017 referendum, which has drawn protest from 33 Nobel laureates (Guardian 28-Jun). The Correfoc doesn’t think any of this looks much like an olive branch and doesn’t expect much of the conflict talks planned for September.
Support for independence may be falling among younger Catalans (Politico 18-Jun), preferring to prioritise personal finances. The Spanish challenge to the rent cap law is an opportunity for the independence movement.
Fun Fact: Researchers from IBEC and IDIBAPS can control brain waves with light (La Vanguardia 17-Jun)


The Correfoc Report 31-May-2021
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
New president will ask Spain for a referendum (Reuters 21-May)
Tourism drop transforms Barcelona’s property market (FT 13-May)
Govt starts green hydrogen valley project in Tarragona (Euro Weekly News 16-May)
The Correfoc's View
Pardons may be coming soon for the politicians involved with the 2017 referendum (El País 31-May). There will be conditions: no reoffending and bans from holding public office. The Correfoc still doesn’t think much has changed. The new president, Aragones, looks like he will keep up a low level but persistent badgering.
Fun Fact: Barcelona's European Museum of Modern Art is welcoming Pepper, a new robotic guide (Catalan News 19-May)


The Correfoc Report 30-Apr-2021
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Govt plan legal framework for curfews beyond the state of alarm (El Periódico 28-Apr)
Unemployment down but 0.5m still out of work (Catalan News 06-Apr)
Beach crowds defy Covid-19 restrictions (Reuters 03-Apr)
The Correfoc's View
The Correfoc doesn’t expect things to get better soon in Catalonia. Passenger numbers for Barcelona Airport are down 90% for the same period last year (Catalan News 12-Apr). Barcelona’s hotels missed out on approximately 95% of their usual turnover since the beginning of the pandemic (Catalan News 28-Apr). If the beach crowds are anything to go by, Catalans are getting tired of restrictions and are eager for life to get back to normal.
Fun Fact: The world’s first dedicated shop for caganer figures opened in Catalonia (Olive Press 26-Apr)


The Correfoc Report 31-Mar-2021
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
EU Parliament lifts 3 MEPs immunity (Catalan News 09-Mar)
Barcelona FC elect pro-independence president (PR 07-Mar)
Rent cap law is shrinking Catalonia’s rental market (Reuters 11-Mar)
The Correfoc's View
Barcelona FC was viewed as one of the last big Catalan institutions untouched by the independence issue. The Correfoc wonders if the new president’s election is a sign of public sentiment or the effectiveness of agitation of political activists. Either way, culture and politics have very closely connected futures.
The Correfoc notes two new independence-helpful projects. The first is 11Onze, an SME and community bank (Finextra 02-Mar). Many separatists feel they cannot rely on the existing large banks after they moved registered offices after the 2017 referendum. The second is public/private cooperative bid to build a battery factory (Catalan News 04-Mar). The project is for cars but decentralised energy storage is potentially very liberating.
Fun Fact: One of Catalonia’s Easter traditions is the “Bunyols de Quaresma” or “bunyols de vent” which means “wind donuts” (Catalan News 17-Mar)


The Correfoc Report 28-Feb-2021
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Independence parties win +50% vote share for the first time (Catalan News 15-Feb)
Rapper arrested, free speech riots for almost 2 weeks (Sky News 27-Feb)
Unemployment exceeds 500k (Catalan News 02-Feb)
The Correfoc's View
There are a lot of good ingredients for the pro-independence movement.
The rapper, Pablo Hasél , was arrested for “glorification of terrorism” and “slander against the crown”. None of the 64 tweets cited, see all of them reproduced here for yourself (Público 30-Jan-2018), would violate the US 1st amendment. None of the tweets call for violence, directly or indirectly. Besides, the Spanish police and monarchy don’t need any help from Hasél to make them look bad.
There’s no need for any violence. The independence movement can just point to the status quo and very credibly say that it’s easy to do better than that.
Fun Fact: At the Abocador de Can Mata, Catalonia’s largest landfill, ancient fossils of the ancestors of primates were discovered by paleontologists (National Geographic 26-Feb)


The Correfoc Report 31-Jan-2021
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Court annuls move to delay 14-Feb election (Reuters 29-Jan)
SMEs forced to close get €2,500 (Euro Weekly News 04-Jan)
Space program begins with nanosatellite launch (El País 28-Jan)
The Correfoc's View
The last few years in Catalan politics were very emotional and nothing much has changed. The Spanish Health Minister, Salvador Illa, quit to run for the Socalists’ Party of Catalonia (PSC-PSOE) (The Local 25-Jan). The PSC have never done very well but now they are competitive to (at 20% vote share) become the largest party. Polls suggest they are winning the most vote share from a fellow opposition party. The Correfoc expects pro-independence parties to win but not decisively.
The Correfoc isn’t concerned at all about Vox winning seats. Catalonia’s system is proportional representation. This makes it easier for small parties to win a few seats.
Fun Fact: Construction resumed on La Sagrada (Catalan News 25-Jan)


The Correfoc Report 31-Dec-2020
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Spanish PM suggests possible pardons (Independent 30-Dec)
Covid-19 restriction relaxation rejected (El País 09-Dec)
High ranking ex-military WhatsApp group executions & coup threats (infoLibre 01-Dec)
The Correfoc's View
The Correfoc does not expect pardons any time soon. The process is long and needs support from both the government and Supreme Court. Support for independence is down a little since 2017. Perhaps the PM is not worried about the independence movement and feels safe floating the idea of pardons.
Catalonia is determined to become a tech hub. Girona will host the new Blockchain Center of Catalonia (Bolsamanía 23-Dec). There are a lot of pointless projects in the blockchain space. The Correfoc hopes that the Catalans will focus on the good ones.
Fun Fact: Ski season was allowed to start in Catalonia after Covid-19 restrictions were relaxed (Reuters 14-Dec)


The Correfoc Report 30-Nov-2020
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Spain to pass 1st budget in years after Catalan separatist party agreement (Reuters 24-Nov)
Anger over downgrade of Castilian language in Catalonia (Telegraph 19-Nov)
Barcelona bolsters position as digital hub (PR 10-Nov)
The Correfoc's View
Catalonia is the richest, most developed, and futuristic part of Spain. What if it waits, continues to outperform the rest of Spain, and becomes a more natural centre of power? Maybe independence comes when the rest of Spain wants to separate from Catalonia.
Fun Fact: Enaire, the Spanish air navigation authority, announced plans to bring flying taxis to Barcelona Airport (PR 03-Nov)


The Correfoc Report 31-Oct-2020
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Catalonia orders rents halved for businesses hit by forced Covid closure (Reuters 20-Oct)
Govt approves delegate offices in Dakar, Sydney, & Tokyo (Catalan News 06-Oct)
Govt to launch space agency & 6 communications satellites (Guardian 27-Oct)
The Correfoc's View
The govt seems very eager to prevent businesses from closing forever. If no prior agreement was reached between landlords and tenants, the govt ordered rent cuts up to 70% for some businesses. It is also introducing a break on VAT, corporation taxes, and social security contributions (Catalan News 17-Oct). 
Small satellite launches are more common these days than you might expect. Just like the 2Africa subsea fibre optic cable, communication satellites help Catalan infrastructural independence.
Fun Fact: Castanyada is celebrated in Catalonia instead of Halloween, though the festival has the same Celtic origins (Catalan News 31-Oct)


The Correfoc Report 30-Sep-2020
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Spanish Supreme Court upholds 18-month ban on President Torra holding office (Reuters 28-Sep)
Caixabank and state-owned Bankia merger deal to form Spain’s largest bank (PR 18-Sep)
Mossos d’Esquadra say Catalonia is Europe’s illegal marijuana epicentre (El País 04-Sep
The Correfoc's View
The Torra case originates from his refusal to follow orders from the Spanish electoral regulator to remove a banner from his offices supporting jailed independence politicians. Torra says he’ll keep appealing. The Correfoc thinks he’ll keep getting rejected and this will keep energising Torra and independence supporters. Elections look likely in the next few months.
Catalonia is Spain’s most economically successful region. The Correfoc predicts the Spanish government will put extra burdens on Catalonia in the post-pandemic recovery and voters won’t be happy.
Fun Fact: Catalan public TV channel TV3 and Vodafone conducted an immersive multi-camera 5G broadcast of the Superbike World Championship at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya (Catalan News 18-Sep)


The Correfoc Report 31-Aug-2020
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Catalan parliament passes motion against Spanish monarchy (Reuters 07-Aug)
Barcelona rethinks its reliance on tourism (Guardian 01-Aug)
ADIF and ADIF Alta Velocidad €280m for Catalonia rail network (Railway Gazette 13-Aug)
The Correfoc's View
The Catalan parliament’s motion is really just symbolic but Catalonia has a long history of republicanism. The situation with former King Juan Carlos is still very, very embarrassing. Corruption, profligacy, indignity, exile...the King used to represent Spain’s transition from dictatorial fascism to democratic constitutional monarchy. His son, Felipe, is King now but the Correfoc thinks more Catalans will ask if this is really how they want to be represented.
Fun Fact: It’s rumoured that Manchester City, led by Catalan manager Pep Guardiola, will pay £450m for a 5-year deal for Barcelona FC’s Lionel Messi (Football Faithful 31-Aug)


The Correfoc Report 31-Jul-2020
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
WhatsApp confirm President of Parliament’s phone was hacked (Guardian 28-Jul)
Spanish GDP and bank profits collapse (Catalan News 31-Jul)
4m people asked to stay at home in new Covid wave (Euronews 18-Jul)
The Correfoc's View
The mobile phone of Roger Torrent, President of the Catalonia Parliament, was hacked. The Pegasus program, developed by Israeli company NSO, is only sold to governments. Pegasus lets you listen to calls, read messages, access memory storage, take screenshots, see browsing history, and remotely use a phone’s camera and microphone. The Correfoc suspects the Spanish state is responsible. If so, this kind of surveillance is terrible but not entirely surprising.
Fun Fact: The Formula 1 Grand Prix race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya will proceed as planned, unaffected by anti-Covid measures (Autosport 22-Jul)


The Correfoc Report 30-Jun-2020
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Barcelona Airport starts to welcome back arrivals (Catalan News 21-Jun)
50 police investigated over handling of last October's riots (Catalan News 29-Jun)
Rolls Royce Marine Division moves from Catalonia to Costa Blanca (Euro Weekly News 01-Jun)
The Correfoc's View
The Correfoc is pessimistic about Catalonia’s economic prospects. Lockdown is easing there and around Europe but its tourism sector will still be seriously affected at peak season. This, on top of a pattern of manufacturing leaving Catalonia (see last month’s report below), is doubly concerning.
Fun Fact: The Government of Catalonia is endorsing a joint bid by Barcelona and the Catalan Pyrenees to host the 2030 Winter Olympics (Catalan News 26-Jun)


The Correfoc Report 31-May-2020
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
EU parliament to examine immunity of exiled independence leaders (Catalan News 06-May)
Hundreds of workers protest Nissan closure in Barcelona (El País 28-May)
Catalonia to connect with world's 2nd-longest fiber optic subsea cable (Catalan News 18-May)
The Correfoc's View
Joining the 2Africa cable will connect Catalonia directly to the rest of the world. The Correfoc expects the pro-independence supporters will be very pleased with such a key piece of infrastructural separation from Spain.
Car manufacturing is approx. 10% of Catalonia’s GDP. SEAT remains but Nissan’s withdrawal is unfortunate. The prospect of post-Covid-19 recession is getting clearer and closer. Catalonia is a relatively wealthier part of Spain. Recession will cause a split between 1) people who think unity with Spain is better for stability and 2) people who think independence is better for taking control of their own future.
Fun Fact: Pollution levels in Barcelona have dropped 62% during lockdown (Catalan News 04-May)


The Correfoc Report 30-Apr-2020
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Separatists criticise Madrid govt’s Covid-19 response (El País 18-Apr)
Catalan govt asks Spanish military for help (Reuters 02-Apr)
Social rent decree risks post-Covid-19 recovery (DBRS Morningstar 06-Apr)
The Correfoc's View
Using the pandemic for political purposes is very risky. It is difficult simultaneously to criticise the central Madrid govt and ask for its help. It also might look like separatists are trying selfishly to take advantage of a tragedy. There is definitely a political opportunity. Global reactions to Covid-19 are not international and cooperative. Countries closed their borders, stockpiled, and became sceptical of even supposedly benign international organisations like the WHO.
The Correfoc expects more Catalans will wonder who really has their interests at heart.
Fun Fact: The mona cake is a traditional Easter treat for children, sponge topped with chocolate and decorated with figures, gifted by godfathers (Catalan News 13-Apr)


The Correfoc Report 31-Mar-2020
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Catalonia & Madrid clash over Covid-19 lockdown (FT 26-Mar)
CCOO trade union warns 1m fired due to Covid-19 (Catalan News 30-Mar)
President Torra tests positive for Covid-19 (El Punt Avui 16-Mar)
The Correfoc's View
Catalonia imposed stricter lockdown measures and Madrid protested saying that it didn’t have the authority. Catalonia is one of the worst affected areas. Now is not the time for Madrid to be difficult.
Unemployment is a serious problem. Catalonia’s total population is approx. 7.5m. Whoever handles this crisis the best, Madrid or Catalonia, unionists or separatists, stands to benefit enourmously.
Fun Fact: FC Barcelona is working with its Chinese sponsor, Taiping Life Insurance, to deliver 30k masks to the Catalonia Ministry of Health (PR 28-Mar)


The Correfoc Report 29-Feb-2020
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Approx 100k attend Puigdemont rally in French Catalonia (Le Monde 29-Feb)
2017 referendum anti-torture report (Council of Europe 04-Feb)
Catalonia working for digital independence with blockchain (CoinDesk 06-Feb)
The Correfoc's View
The Spanish PM, Sanchez, and Catalonia President, Torra, began talks (UPI 26-Feb). At best they may find a way forward on political violence. Spain is in a weak position. The Council of Europe’s report reflects poorly on the way Spanish police treated Catalans in 2017. Puigdemont’s rally in France shows that independence remains passionately supported. It also keeps Catalonia in the international press.
Digital independence will take more time. FC Barcelona in the popular culture may help people get familiar with the idea. It’s issuing a new blockchain-based fan product (Cointelegraph 13-Feb
Fun Fact: A 15,000 year old cave with engravings was found in L'Espluga de Francolí, the oldest examples of prehistoric art yet found in Catalonia (Catalan News 07-Feb)


The Correfoc Report 31-Jan-2020
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Snap election announced (El País 29-Jan)
Cat govt proceeds with foreign rep offices (Catalan News 15-Jan)
NGO asks to dock 363 migrants rescued from Mediterranean (Catalan News 31-Jan)
The Correfoc's View
If there is a decisive result in the snap election, this will help resolve two major issues. First, the courts stripped Catalan premier, Quim Torra, of his seat in the Catalan parliament. Second, the relationship between the two main independence parties, JxCAT and the ERC, is bad and they are not cooperating. The Correfoc warns against trying to frustrate democratic decisions through technocratic means. It creates a divide between the people and the institutions which are supposed to serve them.
The Correfoc is also concerned by the ongoing migrant crisis. Spain as a whole is now the largest destination for Mediterranean crossing from North Africa. The Correfoc expects political backlash to increase the longer this continues.
Fun Fact: A proposal from the Barcelona city council aims to reduce the carbon footprint of school meals by 23% by reducing use of animal products (Catalan News 30-Jan)


The Correfoc Report 31-Dec-2019
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Puigdemont to officially become an MEP (Catalan News 23-Dec)
Catalonia needs €45bn to counter infrastructure deficit until 2030 (Catalan News 13-Dec)
University of Bristol chosen as smart city partner (Press Release 16-Dec)
The Correfoc's View
The European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) rulings about Oriol Junqueras (AP News 19-Dec) and Carles Puigdemont are very important. Spain may not have to release Junqueras from prison but the Correfoc isn’t sure how they could justify keeping him. Puigdemont is still in exile in Brussels. The Correfoc wonders what might happen if he returns to Catalonia...

Fun Fact: Tuesday 13th, not Friday 13th, is the unlucky day in Catalonia (Catalan News 13-Dec)


The Correfoc Report 30-Nov-2019
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Independence parties national election best ever results (Catalan News 10-Nov)
Spanish King met with protests in Barcelona (La Vanguardia 04-Nov)
Freedom of expression and assembly threatened in Spain (Amnesty International 19-Nov)
The Correfoc's View
The Correfoc doesn’t expect any major moves in the independence movement in the next 5 years. Support is strong but slightly ebbing according to a recent poll (El País 15-Nov). On the other hand, the Spanish King and his daughter, the Princess of Girona, cannot even step foot in the city. The Princess of Girona Foundation Awards had to be held in Barcelona.
The Correfoc discourages protests like blocking motorways (The Local 11-Nov). If Catalonia builds better alternatives, tech, business relationships (Catalan News 13-Nov), it will more sustainably win people to the cause of independence.
Fun Fact: The first lambeosaur dinosaurs in Europe have been found in the Catalan Pyrenees (Catalan News 26-Nov)


The Correfoc Report 31-Oct-2019
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Independence politicians sentenced for 9 to 13 years (UPI 14-Oct)
New type of online protest organisation, Tsunami Democràtic (Wired 19-Oct)
Belgian court delays Puigdemont extradition hearing (Reuters 29-Oct)
The Correfoc's View
Catalonia is in turmoil. There’s been a general strike (The Local 18-Oct), roads and the airport blocked (El País 14-Oct), and multiple nights of riots (ITV 17-Oct). Even FC Barcelona issued a specific statement saying that prison sentences for the 9 independence politicians is not the answer (PR 14-Oct). Polls and election results are one measure, but protest number estimates are interesting; 80k for unity (BBC 27-Oct) vs 350k for independence (BBC 27-Oct).
The Correfoc understands the independence movement is going to step things up.
Tsunami Democràtic is a decentralised, cell structure, anonymous online organising tool for street protests and civil disobedience. The Guardia Civil are so worried about it they’ve asked Github, the popular software development website, to take the TD app down. Spain is now the 3rd country to get takedown explanation file after Russia and China (Github 30-Oct).
Not a good look for Spain...and the app will probably spread even more now.
Fun Fact: El Clásico (Real Madrid vs Barcelona football match) has been delayed because of political turmoil (ESPN 29-Oct)


The Correfoc Report 30-Sep-2019
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
7 Catalan separatists charged over terrorism (Reuters 26-Sep)
8 police to be investigated for 2017 referendum violence (The Local 06-Sep)
Catalonia to build DLT based citizen identity system (CoinDesk 09-Sep)
The Correfoc's View
The terrorism-related arrests are a significant escalation, regardless of the truth. Trust on both sides was already low and will sink even lower.
The Spanish police have problems with corruption. The world, not just Catalonia, saw them beat up voters during the 01-Oct-2017 independence referendum. The head of the Catalonia government, President Torra, says the charges are “fabricated” (Catalan News 29-Sep). Independence movements often have violent elements. Catalonia is denied decisive, official, democratic say on independence. Making peaceful political changes of power difficult makes violence more likely. The trial verdicts for the politicians who organised the referendum are expected soon. This whole incident is horrible timing.
In the meantime, the Correfoc is interested in technology in Catalonia. Spain blocked a project between the Catalonia and Occitania 5G corridor project to create a section of road for self-driving cars (Catalan News 17-Sep). It won’t be able to interfere with blockchain projects so easily. It’s a great way to peacefully disobey and advance the cause of independence. 
Fun Fact: Catalan police confiscated 40 marijuana plants spotted on a rooftop in Igualada by a helicopter filming the Vuelta a España (Guardian 04-Sep)


The Correfoc Report 31-Aug-2019
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Catalonia govt to take Madrid to court over withheld funds (Catalan News 21-Aug)
Spain to take Cat govt to court over foreign action plans (Catalan News 23-Aug)
Barcelona commercial to residential conversation x3 in last 5 years (El País 26-Aug)
The Correfoc's View
Legal actions on their own won’t move the needle. Both sides would be better off making cultural moves and doing things which very directly benefit the people they want to persuade.
Fun Fact: The 202nd Festa Major de Gràcia took place this month, with an estimated 2 million people taking to 24 streets in the Gràcia district (Catalan News 15-Aug)


The Correfoc Report 31-Jul-2019
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Catalonia received 65.9% of planned funding 2015-2018 (La Vanguardia 30-Jul)
Spain spied on Catalonia rep offices (TV3 09-Jul)
10,000 Catalans protest outside EU parliament (The National 03-Jul)
The Correfoc's View
The numbers help explain Catalan grievances with Spain. Madrid receiving 113.9% of its planned spending doesn’t look great. By other measures, only approx a third of spending was actually executed in the 2013-18 period. Spain has some questions to answer...
Other sources number the protests (to acknowledge their MEPs – last month's report below) in Strasbourg at approx. 5,000. Even that is quite a turnout. Even the British, who are leaving the EU, have never gone international to protest like that.
Spanish spying on Catalan rep offices isn’t just creepy, it’s silly. Nobody will be dealing with them diplomatically and their entire purpose seems to be to encourage investment, tourism, etc. in Catalonia. Lots of states, regions, etc. within countries have those kinds of offices. This only makes Spain look controlling and paranoid. Worse – Spain seems to be spying on foreign politicians e.g. UK (Daily Mail 11-Jul) and is being sued by the Catalan rep in Berlin (Catalan News 31-Jul), presumably taking advantage of post-war, literal anti-Nazi, legal measures.
Fun Fact: On its pre-season tour of Japan, FC Barcelona is cooperating with the Government of Catalonia and the Barcelona City Council to promote investment in Catalonia (FC Barcelona 23-Jul)


The Correfoc Report 30-Jun-2019
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
No MEPs from Spain to receive accreditation after Puigdemont blocked (euronews 06-Jun)

Catalan separatists defiant on last day of trial in Madrid (BBC 12-Jun)

NGO ship defies ban on rescuing migrants from the Mediterranean (Catalan News 28-Jun)
The Correfoc's View
Spain’s MEP situation is farcical. The EU Parliament President, Antonio Tajani, dodged the problem by saying this is an administrative matter for Spain’s judiciary (National 29-Jun). Let’s see how Puigdemont’s trip to the European Court of Justice goes (Politico 17-Jun). The Correfoc expects he will be rejected. The EU is not in a strong enough position to risk angering Spain.
Fun Fact: The 10,000 acre wild fire in Catalonia started because temperatures got so hot that a big pile of manure spontaneously combusted (CNN 28-Jun)


The Correfoc Report 31-May-2019
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Spain protest UN request to release independence leaders (Reuters 31-May)
Puigdemont elected as MEP, EU parliament deny access (Catalan News 29-May)
Spain suspends sworn-in, jailed independence MPs (Reuters 24-May)
The Correfoc's View
Catalonia’s situation is farcical. Its MPs are sworn in then suspended immediately. Its most prominent, newly elected MEP is being denied access to his office on what seems like a convenient technicality. Perhaps the internationality of recent news will attract some attention.
However, Catalonia is still split. A recent poll shows support for and against independence at roughly equal (El País 10-May). Spanish unionists should still be concerned. It would not take much to shift things clearly in favour of independence. Independence supporters should still be concerned. They have considerably more work to do.
Fun Fact: President Quim Torra is fighting to keep Formula 1 in Catalonia (La Vanguardia 12-May)


The Correfoc Report 30-Apr-2019
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Independence parties increase seats in Spanish parliament (The Local 30-Apr)
Spain bars exiled ex-President Puigdemont from EU elections (Reuters 29-Apr)
30 officials to face trial over independence referendum (El País 09-Apr)
The Correfoc's View
The aftermath of the Spanish national parliamentary elections could be good for Catalan independence. Some speculate that PM Sanchez could govern without support but his party falls well short of a majority. He may need to seek support from at least some parties which support Catalan independence. The rumours are that the price would be another referendum. The Correfoc is doubtful. The Correfoc expects Sanchez to work hard to avoid a referendum because it is very risky.
Fun Fact: Earthquake 4.3 on the Richter scale hits Catalonia (Catalan News 03-Apr)


The Correfoc Report 31-Mar-2019
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Ex-President Puigdemont to run in European elections (Catalan News 10-Mar)
3 attacks in 1 week on migrant youth camps (El País 12-Mar)
Anti-independence Vox Party co-prosecutor in independence trial (Reuters 13-Mar)
The Correfoc's View
Spain’s justice system allows for co-accusers, so-called “people’s prosecutors” at trials. Whatever the result of the trial, it is very obviously politicised. The Correfoc expects this will only help to boost the cause for independence.
Cultural influences are important too. Catalonia has a (unrecognised) national football team. It played Venezuela and won. La Liga, the Spanish football league, refused Catalan players at Spanish clubs permission to join the team (Reuters 20-Mar). The Correfoc does not understand why Scotland or Wales have sports teams separate to England, but Catalonia cannot have one separate from Spain.
Fun Fact: Catalonia defeat Venezuela at football 2-1 (BBC 25-Mar)


The Correfoc Report 28-Feb-2019
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Spain ends talks with Catalonia (El País 08-Feb)
Ex-PM Rajoy blames Catalans for his referendum violence (Reuters 27-Feb)
Pro-separatists protest and block roads (AP 21-Feb)
The Correfoc's View
Catalan separatists refused to help pass the Spanish govt’s budget so it ended talks. This may lead to an early general election. The Correfoc expects all sides will stay firm.
Road blocks and disruptive protests are usually ineffective...but the Correfoc does not expect ex-PM Rajoy’s testimony in the Catalan leaders’ rebellion trial will be taken well. He effectively said that the Catalans forced him to react violently by proceeding with their referendum vote.
Fun Fact: Barcelona won a strong victory over Real Madrid, 3-0, in the Copa del Rey (FC Barcelona 27-Feb)


The Correfoc Report 31-Jan-2019
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Catalonia’s separatist leaders go on trial (Economist 31-Jan)
Spain PM loses budget vote (AP 22-Jan)
17 arrested in ongoing anti-terror operation (AP 15-Jan)
The Correfoc's View
The separatist leaders arrested in the aftermath of 2017’s independence vote are now going on trial. Proceedings will last for months and it will be televised. It is very important that Spain conducts fair trials. Catalan nationalists will be watching for anything untoward and view this as a judgement on Catalonia itself.
Other troubles rumble on. The threat of terrorism is fuel for independence. Separatist parties (and others) voted down a Spanish national budget which increased spending for Catalonia. Unfair spending is a driver but independence is definitely proving to be about more than money for some separatists. Self-determination is a powerful motivation.
Fun Fact: Catalonia is suing Lego for not including the Catalan language on packaging for sale in the region (Brick Fanatics 11-Jan)


The Correfoc Report 31-Dec-2018
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Jailed Catalan leaders begin hunger strike (Reuters 01-Dec)
Madrid threaten extra police to tackle protesters (El País 11-Dec)
Protesters & police clash as cabinet meet in Barcelona (France 24 21-Dec)
The Correfoc's View
Political division, protests, riots, continue. Protesters and supporters of independence must be careful not to put off potential supporters. Blocking traffic and inconveniencing the general public do not tend to persuade people. In any case, Catalonia is still much divided. Conciliatory language from the new Spanish PM seems to be just talk. The Correfoc does not expect tensions and anger over independence to fade in 2019.
Fun Fact: The “caganer” is a traditional figurine in Catalan nativity displays – it literally means “the shitter” and often depicts a political figure with their trousers down (BBC 17-Dec)


The Correfoc Report 30-Nov-2018
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Spanish authorities cannot agree charges against separatists (El País 02-Nov)
Ai Weiwei condemns Spanish behaviour (Catalan News 21-Nov)
Budget protests intensify (El País 29-Nov)
The Correfoc's View
Different Spanish authorities cannot decide between the more serious charge of rebellion (25 years) or sedition (12 years) and misuse of funds. Either way, democracy carries a prison sentence in Spain. Freedom of speech also looks threatened after a Catalan comedian was summoned to court for hate crimes and insulting Spanish symbols by blowing his nose on a Spanish flag (Catalan News 26-Nov). Ai Weiwei’s (the famous Chinese human rights dissident and artist) intervention looks even more awful for Spain.
Anti-austerity protests are also increasing. 60% of family doctors are on strike in Catalonia. If Spain is not careful, anti-authoritarian, anti-immigration (see August’s Report), and economic unrest will cause real trouble. It is unsurprising that the latest poll was 47%/43% in favour of independence (Catalan News 23-Nov).
Fun Fact: Artists Anna Juncà and David Oliva created an “Origami Lava” display in an abandoned building as part of the annual Lluèrnia Festival celebrating fire and light (The Spaces 14-Nov)


The Correfoc Report 31-Oct-2018
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Pro-independence MPs lose majority in parliament (Catalan News 09-Oct)
Referendum websites blocked by Spain, EU won’t interfere (Catalan News 16-Oct)
Barcelona launches new digital currency (Crypto News 05-Oct)
The Correfoc's View
The loss of their majority comes after a ruling by a Spanish judge to suspend certain MPs (the imprisoned or exiled). The speaker will not allow substitutions and some parties/MPs reject being substituted anyway. The Correfoc understands the point of principle (they believe they are rightfully elected and illegitimately denied their seats) but wonders about practicality.
The Correfoc is concerned about “digital repression”. Jordi Puigneró, the Minister of Digital Policies, has taken the complaint to the EU about Spain shutting down hundreds of pro-independence websites and apps. The EU response amounted to saying that it was against digital repression except when the laws of a Member State allow it. This is disgusting.
Fun Fact: FC Barcelona defeat Real Madrid in a spectacular 5-1 match (FC Barcelona 28-Oct)


The Correfoc Report 30-Sep-2018
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Spanish PM proposes a greater autonomy referendum (Channel News Asia 03-Sep)
Bank of Spain cuts growth forecasts (Reuters 25-Sep)
Madrid sends 1,000 extra police to Catalonia (El País 05-Sep)
The Correfoc's View
It has been a year since the independence referendum and it looks like stalemate. There is little movement on either side, though popular pro-independence marches are frequent and well attended. Despite cuts in growth forecasts, the Catalonia economy remains strong. It is the strongest in all of Spain. The Correfoc believes that the independence movement is making slow gains, but this is a battle of attrition and independence is not guaranteed. 
Fun Fact: There are an estimated 9 million speakers of the Catalan language


The Correfoc Report 31-Aug-2018
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Yellow ribbon protests continue (The Local 30-Aug)
Catalonia 1H exports hit record high, €36.6bn (Catalan News 23-Aug)
Andalusia and Catalonia want fairer migrant distribution (El País 06-Aug)
The Correfoc's View
Tensions are still high. Many Catalans protest the imprisonment of their elected representatives with yellow ribbons, posted all around in many public places. Counter-protesters do their best to take them down or spoil them.
The Correfoc is mindful of the ongoing Mediterranean migrant crisis. Italy is taking preventative measures and now the boats go to Andalusia and Catalonia. The Correfoc suspects this will make the central Madrid government even more unpopular.
Fun Fact: Despite heavy controls, the independence referendum happened anyway in last October – the ballot boxes came via the Catalans in the South of France (BBC 19-Aug)


The Correfoc Report 31-Jul-2018
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Spain drops warrant against Puigdemont (BBC 19-Jul)
Spain to challenge Cat govt in court (Catalan News 06-Jul)
Catalonia govt to adopt blockchain technology (Press Release 07-Jul)
The Correfoc's View
Spain looks like it will oppose any and all means to achieve independence through legal means. It will challenge a motion set in the Catalan parliament merely reaffirming commitment to seeking independence.
The promise to adopt blockchain technology is very interesting. It could help Catalonia create the infrastructure it needs for a minimally disruptive separation.
Fun Fact: A return to traditional fishing methods may help save the red shrimp fishing industry (Smithsonian Magazine 05-Jul)


The Correfoc Report 30-Jun-2018
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Catalan President to ask Spain for secession vote (AP 26-Jun)
Madrid lifts financial controls (Politico 08-Jun)
Govt rules out incentives to reattract firms (Catalan News 14-Jun)
The Correfoc's View
The new Catalan govt will try official, fully indisputable legal means to get a vote on independence. There is a new govt in Madrid which for now looks like it is taking a less violent and authoritarian approach. If a vote is granted can independence win? Catalonia’s economy is strong across all sectors. It does not look like the events of last year had a serious effect. On the other hand, voters may not want to rock the boat. It is too early for the Correfoc to judge.
Fun Fact: The women of the town L'Ametlla del Vallès have voted 60.1% to allow topless bathing at the local municipal pool after previous arrests and public demonstrations (La Vanguardia 11-Jun)


The Correfoc Report 31-May-2018
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Torra proposes new ministers (El País 30-May)
Nestlé and Siemens plan new tech hubs (Catalan News 29-May)
S&P drops debt downgrade warning for Catalonia (The Local 26-May)
The Correfoc's View
Catalan President Quim Torra has proposed a new govt with no jailed or exiled members. It looks like Madrid will have to restore regional power to an independence-supporting Catalan govt.
Catalonia’s prospects are good. Nestlé’s and Siemens’ plans, the planned blockchain centre in the Barcelona Tech City (La Vanguardia 24-May), are good examples of a wider pattern. Entrepreneurship increased from approx. 6.9% to 8% in 2017 (GEM 28-May). Catalonia also attracted the most EU funds for innovative SMEs 2014-17 (Catalan News 30-May).
The Correfoc believes a focus on tech, innovation, and new business could help minimise the risks of independence. New projects do not rely as much on the maintenance of the status quo.
Fun Fact: Hollywood actor Robert De Niro will open a new Nobu restaurant in Barcelona in 2019 (La Vanguardia 18-May)


The Correfoc Report 30-Apr-2018
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Basque delegation sent to Catalonia for budget talks (Bloomberg 09-Apr)
Germany refuses to extradite Puigdemont (Independent 05-Apr)
Spain & Catalonia fishing permit battle (The Local 26-Apr)
The Correfoc's View
Spain is months overdue to pass their budget for this year. Spanish PM Rajoy relied on Basque Nationalist Party support to stay in government. Now they will not support a new budget until the end of Madrid’s direct rule over Catalonia. Support for independence in the Basque Country is approx 25% (50% in Catalonia) and the Basques have much greater financial self-determination. The Correfoc expects that the Basques like the status quo and will try to approach the situation as a moderating influence.
Fun Fact: Saint Jordi (George) is the patron saint of Catalonia. His day is 23-Apr.


The Correfoc Report 31-Mar-2018
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Puigdemont detained in Germany (BBC 25-Mar)
Madrid sends bodyguards for officials in Catalonia (El País 29-Mar)
Madrid prepares to extend control (El País 05-Mar)
The Correfoc's View
The Catalan independence debate was reignited across Europe.
Spain re-issued 6 EU arrest warrants. Finland conspicuously avoided the problem of arresting Puigdemont (Guardian 25-Mar) but not Germany. 51% of Germans are against, with only 35% in favour (Die Welt 29-Mar). Puigdemont has highly respected lawyer, an ex-German Supreme Court and UN International Criminal Court judge (Deutsche Welle 28-Mar). The arrest of ex-Education Minister, Clara Ponsatí, in Scotland is also controversial. St Andrews University, where she lectures in economics, supports her (Guardian 26-Mar) and a cross-bench group of Scottish MPs (Herald 30-Mar). Ponsatí’s crowdfunded legal defence has broken records (Guardian 31-Mar).
The Correfoc expects that the EU arrest warrants will not be denied. The EU is fragile and cannot afford to embarrass Spain. On the other hand, the EU cannot be seen to trample human rights, free speech, and democracy. The issue of Catalan independence is far from over.
Fun Fact: Bakers expect to sell 700,000 traditional Easter Mona de Pasqua cakes this year (Catalan News 28-Mar)


The Correfoc Report 28-Feb-2018
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Amnesty International call for independence leader release (Guardian 07-Feb)
Catalan govt planning army, Guardia Civil report says (El Pais 02-Feb)
Girona airport to get high speed rail connection (Catalan News 22-Feb)
The Correfoc's View
The pro-independence side is making its next moves: an appeal to human rights and civil liberties. We will see appeals to the UN (Guardian 01-Feb), the ECHR (Catalan News 13-Feb), and independence politician Anna Gabriel is seeking asylum in Switzerland (El Pais 20-Feb). The Correfoc expects this is the best chance at tackling the 4-year low support for independence (Reuters 23-Feb) but it may prove a longer term strategy.
Fun Fact: FA charge Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola over yellow independence support ribbon (Guardian 23-Feb)


The Correfoc Report 31-Jan-2018
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Spanish court; Puigdemont cannot rule from abroad (BBC 27-Jan)
Spanish govt; military was ready to go into Catalonia (ABC 06-Jan)
Drought threatens crops (Catalan News 24-Jan)
The Correfoc's View
Political games continue. A Spanish court has ruled that Puigdemont cannot lead the Catalan parliament as a fugitive. There are no other candidates and the Catalan parliament has delayed the vote to elect its President (Independent 30-Jan). Puigdemont’s (temporary) despair (BBC 31-Jan) is understandable. We now know that Spain was prepared to send in the army and spent an extra €88m on police to squash independence (Independent 18-Jan). The Correfoc thinks it is the separatists’ next move.
Fun Fact: Messi agreed a no-fee exit clause in case of Catalan independence (Reuters 05-Jan)


The Correfoc Report 31-Dec-2017
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Independence parties keep win narrow majority (BBC 21-Dec)
Q4 economic growth predict 0.7% (AIReF 28-Dec)
Madrid govt begin withdrawing police from Catalonia (Deutsche Welle 27-Dec)
The Correfoc's View
The Correfoc’s election prediction was correct (see last month’s report below). Exiled Ex-President Puigdemont is calling for talks. If Madrid rejects talks they look unreasonable. If they accept talks it gives legitimacy to independence. Spanish PM Rajoy is trying a desperate third option. He is urging the pro-unity Ciudadanos party to try to form a govt (Bloomberg 27-Dec).
The Correfoc expects the pro-independence parties to form a govt but it will take some time. The Correfoc also expects them to promise compromise and stability to reassure business and build on their political support.
Fun Fact: Real Madrid 0, Barcelona 3 (BBC 23-Dec)


The Correfoc Report 30-Nov-2017
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Brussels court grant Puigdemont freedom to campaign (Reuters 06-Nov)
2700 companies reregister HQs since referendum (Washington Post 30-Nov)
Police probe Cat govt bitcoin referendum payment Amazon&Google (El Mundo 24-Nov)
The Correfoc's View
Madrid and the ex-Catlan govt suggest compromises. Madrid is open to discussing greater fiscal autonomy (Guardian 21-Nov). Puigdemont says independence is not the only solution (The Local 13-Nov) and his PdeCat party now favours talks to achieve independence (The Local 24-Nov). The Correfoc thinks this is just for election campaigning. The Correfoc predicts a narrow win for pro-independence parties.
Fun Fact: Catalans in France are now beginning to campaign for independence (Daily Express 07-Nov)


The Correfoc Report 29-Oct-2017
Top 3 Macro and Risk Headlines
Referendum: 90.18% for independence (Government of Catalonia 10-Oct)
Spanish govt take control of Catalonia TV and radio (El País 22-Oct)
1000+ companies re-register HQs (Der Spiegel 20-Oct)
The Correfoc's View
Spain is revoking the authority of the Government of Catalonia. It jailed independence leaders (Reuters 16-Oct), journalists were summoned by the police, a law was passed to help businesses relocate (Independent 06-Oct), it will force new elections in January (BBC 20-Oct), and hundreds of voters were beaten by police (BBC 01-Oct).
The EU’s credibility is wearing thin.
The Catalans are making economically defensive moves. The Correfoc has heard of plans to introduce a new cryptocurrency. This would bypass Spanish control of the financial system.
Fun Fact: A correfoc is a “fire run”, a traditional Catalan celebration where people dress up as demons and run around, shooting fireworks (see example here)