A number of European countries are further lifting their restrictions on May 25, Monday:
Gyms and swimming pools reopen in Italy, except in the hardest-hit region of Lombardy. The country has the third-highest recorded death toll from the virus worldwide.
Spain’s two biggest cities, Madrid and Barcelona, both move into phase one of the country’s 3-phase lockdown lifting plan. People can now gather in small groups, while bars and restaurants can serve customers outside. Other parts of the country move to phase two – meaning beaches, businesses and public areas can open more extensively.
Ferry services in Greece resume to all islands and ports, as the government hopes to boost domestic tourism. Cafes and restaurants are also reopening in the country from Monday.
Bars repent in the Czech Republic – the country with the highest per capita beer consumption in the world – as the country enters its final lockdown easing stage.
As well as restaurants, cafes and pubs, the doors are also reopening at primary schools, zoos and castles.
The Spanish Civil Guard (Guardia Civil), supported by Europol, has dismantled an organised crime group selling horsemeat which was deemed unsuitable for human consumption. The criminal organisation – active in the province of Barcelona – falsified documents to support their illegal activities. Law enforcement also carried out searches in various horse stables in Catalonia.
Officers from the Spanish Environment Protection Service (SEPRONA) detected that the horsemeat unfit for human consumption on the market came from 300 horses slaughtered in slaughterhouses. The documents of more than 10 000 horses were checked during the searches. The operation resulted in the arrests of 15 suspects and the investigation of 13 others. The investigation led to the seizure of 185 falsified horse passports and the detection of 100 other horses uncompliant with food market regulations.
The members of the criminal network, active since 2015, falsified the horse passports in slaughterhouses and farms in the province of Barcelona. The seized false documents confirmed that the organised crime group could have been responsible for introducing meat from hundreds of slaughtered animals onto the market, which failed to comply with national and European regulations. The slaughterhouse, several livestock farms, cattle dealers and veterinarians were all involved in the criminal activities.
Four Catalan leaders on trial in Madrid over a 2017 referendum their said the independence parties should be more flexible about entering negotiations on forming the next Spanish government after a April 28 national election.
The Catalan leaders’ published an open letter in weekend’s edition of La Vanguardia newspaper, suggesting the independence parties should enter talks with potential coalition partners as long as they refused to rule out an independence referendum as a “possible solution” for the region.
The European Parliament President Antonio Tajani has canceled a conference (18.02.2019) with participation of the Catalan president, Quim Torra, and his predecessor Carles Puigdemont, citing “security threats.”
The conference was due to take place in in Brussels on February 18, but the parliament decided to cancel it saying there was a “high risk” that the event “could pose a threat to the maintenance of public order on the parliament’s premises.“
The chamber detailed its decision in a press release: “The assessment takes into account several elements, including the recent occupation by the protesters of the European Parliament and Commission buildings in Barcelona, the tensions linked to the trial against Catalan pro-independence leaders that started on February 12, the lack of information on the participants at the event and, especially, the possibility of incidents within or around the Parliament premises.“
Apparently the ban came as a result of relentless efforts of Spain‘s three largest parties opposing Catalan independence to bloc the debate. They had sent a letter to the Speaker Antonio Tajani, urging him to prohibit the event on the grounds that Puigdemont planned to “overthrow Spain’s constitutional order.”
“Allowing Puigdemont’s presence is not compatible with the noble role of the European Parliament as an example of democracy and rule of law in force in the EU,” said MEPs from the Socialist, People’s, and Ciutadans parties.
However the ban to host a conference in the European Parliament premises is not conducive to the resolution of the Catalan issue, seen by many Catalans as an act of an ultimate betrayal of their fundamental freedoms by the EU.
Catalan politicians sentenced over organising independence referendum called on for peaceful protests ahead of a first visit of the Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
Prime Minister has planned to chair the weekly meeting in the Catalan capital Barcelona on December 21 in a gesture towards the conflict resolution with the northeastern region where Catalan pro-independence movement rejects the authority of Madrid central government. The claims for independence has not been dropped since the results of the referendum 2017 October 1, declared illegal by Spain’s Constitutional Court, about 90% of Catalan voters backed independence with turnout of 43%.
The leaders of Catalan government and the speaker of the Parliament were arrested, and jailed shorty after the declaration of independence charged with ‘rebellion‘, a non existent crime in the other EU democracies.
Catalan News channel reports the mobilization of protesters from early morning hours.
The Socialist (PSOE) Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced that he would be holding the meeting of his government in the Catalan capital Barcelona, after having done the same in Andalusia, in a bid to bring the central government closer to the people of Spain. These intentions have been interpreted otherwise by the supporters of the Catalonia independence, and groups such as the self-styled Committee for the Defense of the Republic (CDR) have called for mass protests.
Six people arrested, and 24 injured during protests in Barcelona degrading in clashes between police and demonstrators ahead of the anniversary of the 2017 Catalan independence referendum. Police have attempted to prevent protesters who gathered in downtown Barcelona to confront another march in support of Spanish police.
Barcelona’s mayor Ada Colau asked to “avoid confrontation” between pro-independence groups and people marching in support of Spanish police, who are demanding higher salary.
Catalan police Mossos d’Esquadra, have been active in attempting to avoid the opponent protest groups to confront, Catalan News reports, while pro-independence groups passed along the streets same time as the Spanish agents.
There were moments of tension, when police agents have been violently hitting people with their batons. Protesters later chanted messages against the Catalan police and urged the Catalan minister of Home Affairs, Miquel Buch, to resign.
Although there was some tension in the frontline of the pro-independence march, the atmosphere remained enthusiastic at Plaça Sant Jaume, where thousands of people were protesting against the Spanish police presence in the city.
A helicopter has been monitoring the city center of Barcelona, where the two opposed demonstrations were taking place.
A year ago hundreds of Catalans were injured in clashes between Spanish national police and civilians on the day of the referendum as police tried to stop people from voting.
Barcelona has banned horse carriages from June 2018, with the only exception for days of traditional celebration like Los Tres Toms and the Feast of Sant Medir. The ban has been celebrated by animal protection groups, and all those who felt compassionate to horses, suffering from cruelty. Catalonia demonstrates firm determination to imply at most progressive legislation of animal welfare.
After the announcement was made, Deputy Mayor Janet Sanz for ecology tweeted, “Barcelona is a friend to animals.” Given the number of incidents with horse-drawn carriages in the US alone, Barcelona is certainly showing its compassion for animals.
The decision was taken in December 2017, but the owners of horses were given a period of time to adjust to a new situation, and the legislation came into force these days.
Barcelona has been in the forefront of animal welfare, creating a harmonious environment without cruelty and animal abuse. One can hope the other European cities will follow the example of banning this dangerous and outdated practise.
Even without its beaches, Barcelona would be one of Europe’s coolest destinations thanks to its groundbreaking food scene, unique architecture and legendary nightlife.
But the cherry on the sundae is the three-mile strip of nearly continuous golden sand, which is so wired into its heart that it’s like the entire city’s backyard, CNN Travel suggests.
Much of the seafront buzzes with a carnival atmosphere year-round, with hawkers tiptoeing around sunbathers to sell cold cans of beer, beach blankets and chintzy trinkets.
Catalonian parliament has elected pro-independence politician Quim Torra as president, ending months of Barcelona political stalemate with Madrid.
A close ally of the independence leader Carles Puigdemont, Torra, 55, won the ballot by a simple majority with the backing of 66 members of the parliament, and four abstentions. However 65 legislators voted against his candidacy.
Torra has promised to draft a constitution for a future Catalan Republic and restore regional laws that were suspended by Spanish courts in the wake of Catalonia’s October 1, 2017, independence referendum in which about two million Catalans voted to secede from Spain.
The pro-independence parties won an absolute majority, while liberal Ciudadanos party led by Inés Arrimadas won the regional elections in Catalonia in number of seats, according to polls conducted at the exit of polling stations by the newspaper La Vanguardia.
The opposition Unionist party won 34 to 37 seats, at least nine more seats than in the 2015 election. The left-wing secessionist Esquarra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) won between 34 and 36 seats.
The Junts per Catalunya, the list of Carles Puigdemont, the deposed Catalan secessionist Prime Minister, would be credited with 28 to 29 seats.
The Socialist Party of Catalonia (Party of Socialists of Catalonia, PSC) would get between 18 and 20 seats and the left-wing party Comu-Podem 7 to 8 seats. These two parties are opposed to the independence of Catalonia.