After several years of continually falling birth rates in Spain, it seems that the trend is now being reversed (article in Catalan, Avui). Last year in Catalunya, 89,384 babies were born here, the highest number since 1978; of those giving birth here, more than a quarter were non-Spanish women. Indeed babies born to foreign mothers has seen significant grown in the last 10 years: in 1999, 3,705 babies were born to non-Spanish mothers, whereas in 2008 it was 25,220. In Spain overall, the number of babies born rose from 495,527 to 518,967.
Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero was in Catalunya yesterday for the final stages of the campaign for the European Parliamentary elections, which take place in Spain on Sunday (article in Catalan, Avui). The Catalan vote was crucial for the victory of the Spanish Socialist party in last year's general elections and Zapatero admitted that he needed votes from the autonomous region to be sure of beating the opposition party, the Partido Popular, in the election and gaining more seats for Spain in the European Parliament. While here, Zapatero faced a group of Catalan businessmen who urged him, at a meeting that was cordial but not without moments of tension, to make changes to the employment market to ensure that the region and country at large can successfully overcome the current economic crisis (article in Castilian, La Vanguardia).
As summer begins in earnest, the city council will be seeking to limit the number of people selling items on the beaches of Barcelona, such as cold drinks, jewellery, sunglasses, fake branded goods, as well as those offering services such as massages. It's part of a wider undertaking by the Ajuntament to improve the experience of visiting the beaches here; other initiatives include improved cleaning and security services, and more public transport.