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Politics and economy

The Generalitat was constituted in 1359 and the Parliament, in the 1283, which makes it one of the oldest in Europe.

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Catalonia is an autonomous community and exercises its self-government in the Spanish State in accordance with the Constitution of 1978 and the new Statute of Autonomy, approved in 2006. The Generalitat is the institutional system around which Catalonia's self-government is politically organised and it dates from 1359. It consists of the Parliament, the Presidency, the Government (formed by the Executive Council) and other self-governing institutions such as the Síndic de Greuges (guarantor of the rights and liberties of citizens) and the Sindicatura de Comptes (control of the economic accounts of Catalan public institutions).

The Generalitat has extensive competencies in matters such as education, health, citizen security and civil protection, culture, linguistic policy, industry, urban development, housing, regional politics, transport and the environment, among others. Catalonia has its own police force, the Mossos d'Esquadra, which has been covering the full territory since November 1st, 2008. Catalan civil law is applied in legal matters, of historical tradition, the modification of which is the exclusive competence of the Generalitat.


Did you know that...

The Catalan Parliament is one of the oldest in Europe: its origins go back to 1283, when Catalan King Peter II the Great lost absolute power, and also needed authorisation from the clergy, aristocracy and representatives of the villages and towns of the country to approve regulations. Les Corts Catalanes, or the Catalan Parliament, integrated by the three estates, is considered to be an authentic medieval parliament.


Geography has played a favourable role with regard to the economy. Its location in the Peninsula and the Mediterranean has made it a top rank strategic position as a port in the south of Europe, by road transport, motorways and rail transport; by sea, due to port that are constantly growing, and by air, taking advantage of the platform that constitutes the new Terminal T1 in Barcelona airport. The industrial activity has grown particularly in the Barcelona conurbation, but it has also developed in many industrial estates that have grown all over the country.

This set of circumstances has led to strong growth and it has enabled Catalonia to historically become the industrial avant-garde of Spain. Industrial activity is very important for the overall economy of Catalonia, particularly in the chemical, food, energy, metal and transport material sectors. Nevertheless, in recent years, special attention has been paid to logistics and the knowledge economy, an activity that is growing all over Europe. The commitment to new technologies and the audio-visual industry is already giving a distinct personality to the Catalan economy. The technological district of Barcelona, 22@, is a good demonstration of this purpose, to replace the old and often contaminating industries of Poblenou with new technology companies. At the beginning of the decade, Newsweek ranked Barcelona among the top ten technological cities in the world, and in a report prepared by Cushman & Wakefield consulting company in 2008, it was ranked as the fifth most attractive city in Europe for business, after London, Paris, Frankfurt and Brussels. This report also considered Barcelona to be the city with the best quality of life in Europe. Another field for which is Barcelona is noted is its business schools, a point of reference all over the world.

In line with this diversification of economic initiatives, the great debate is the reinforcement of infrastructures, particularly with regard to the one known as the Mediterranean Axis, which coming from Algeciras communicates with Europe after passing by the whole Eastern coast of Spain. The Mediterranean Axis will be reinforced with a high speed train, in line with the AVE line that connects with France. The ports of Barcelona and Tarragona are key points of an economic growth strategy that is considered fundamental to guarantee its competitiveness.

In recent years, tourism has increased in such a way that it has become one of the most notable economic activities of Catalonia. This phenomenon has had a particular impact on the consolidation and expansion of commercial activity. The tourist demand has positioned Barcelona port as the leading one in Europe with regard to cruises and over two million people have arrived in Catalonia by this mode.

The financial activity is based on the savings banks, institutions with a long tradition in Catalonia which traditionally focused on small savings. In recent years, these banks have extended their activity to other sectors and they have a strong presence in the main Spanish companies. In their main activity, they have ventured to open offices all over Spain and have mobilised cultural and heritage centres outside of Catalonia.


Did you know that...

The cities of Catalonia have created commercial hubs that have contributed to revitalising the urban centres and that have made it possible to combine traditional trade with international brands.
Computer and calculator

Computer and calculator


Catalonia has a great tradition of scientific research. It currently stands out in the bioscience field, as the research carried out in its extensive hospital network (more than 60 centres) is complemented with the activity of universities, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, and technological parks. Centres such as the CRG (Centre for Genomic Regulation), the CMRB (Centre for Regenerative Medicine in Barcelona), the IDIBAPS (Institute for Biomedical Research August Pi i Sunyer), and the IRB (Biomedical Research Institute) are some of the more than 150 centres that bring together over 400 research groups in life sciences. Some of the well-known names working in this sector are oncologist Josep Baselga, cardiologist Lina Badimon, biologist Anna Veiga and Juan Carlos Izpisúa and biochemists Joan Massagué and Fàtima Bosch. The BioCat organisation, mobilised by the Generalitat, groups and promotes the biomedicine cluster in Catalonia, which is known as the Bioregion.

However, biomedicine is not its only line of research. All fields of research are represented in Catalonia to some degree, both in the generation of knowledge and in its application. We can point out, for example, research in ecology, a product of the school created by scientist Ramon Margalef, who has an international award in his name for environmental sciences promoted by the Generalitat. There are also the groups dedicated to palaeontology, with obvious figures such as Eudald Carbonell and Salvador Moyà, linked to the exceptional sites of Atapuerca and the abric Romaní de Capellades respectively. With regard to social sciences, we can note the communication groups in the Autonomous University Barcelona or the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3) of the UOC. In total, over 25,000 people work as researchers in Catalonia, which has about a thousand consolidated research groups and which, according to data from the Institute for Scientific Investigation, publish around 5,000 articles in international magazines, a figure higher than many European countries.

One of the major successes of the science policy in Catalonia is the Icrea programme, which gives grants to researchers from all over the world to come and work in Catalonia. The science policy is coordinated through research plans established by the Generalitat, the Spanish Government and the European Union through the Framework programmes. Catalonia is the autonomous community that receives the most financing in the majority of state and European competitions.

Catalan government manages innovation in all possible aspects: business, digital governance, entrepreneurship, education, etc.


Did you know that...

Catalonia wants to become the most important bioregion in the world.
Hand with a smartphone with app on it

Gencat mobile application, available for iOS and Android platforms, brings together the services of the Government for mobiles and others who have done with open data. The application includes a notification service to send personalized communications relevant to citizens, such as emergency warnings Civil Protection.

Update:  29.04.2016