It has been estimated that over 50 percent of adult immigrants participated in Catalan courses offered by the Consorci de Normalització Llingüística (CNL) and other entities associated with it (read article in Castilian here, El Periódico). Ramon Nicolau, president of the organisation said that of the nearly 40,000 entries to various courses held over last year, more than 28,000 of them were of foreign origin, half of these from Latin America. This figure is quadruple that in 2001, and works out at around two out of 10 immigrants studying Catalan in 2010, at low or entry level (the figures vary when talking about intermediate level courses). The CNL provided specialised courses for staff working with seniors and in the hospitality and catering sectors. Toni Mataix, director of the CNL said that "the effort to renew materials and advertise courses has been successful." The consortium have received from the municipality a special budget of €300,000 responding to an increase in demand for the courses. Daniel de Torres, commissioner for immigration says that immigration is a good opportunity for Catalan saying, "if given facilities they [immigrants] want to learn."
Within a month the 80 kilometre per hour limit will be history after new plans drawn up by the minister of the interior Felip Puig were revealed yesterday (read article in Castilian here, El País). Puig revealed the new plan yesterday which involves the scrapping of the 80 limit and allows drivers to travel at the speed of 120 kilometres an hour on some roads in the region. The 80 limit traffic signs will be replaced in the coming weeks costing the Generalitat €76,000. However, the 80 kph limit is not to disappear altogether, on 25 miles of road the limit will still be in place, such as the sections closest to the city. The new model is not with out criticism, facing disapproval from the central government, scientific community and the associations of victims of traffic accidents, Puig defended his new model and said he was "proud to eliminate the 80 areas." The system, more complicated than the last, will be implemented road by road and the Generalitat expect it to be fully operational by March 1st. Puig also stressed that the abolition of the 80 limit does not worsen air quality as scientists warn and will not adversely affect traffic safety as argued by experts on road safety. Statistics contradict each other, Puig announced that major accidents in the 80 areas in 2010 increased by 27 percent, while they fell in the rest of Catalunya by 16 percent. The death toll did, however, remain intact and experts insists that once drivers pass over the limit of 80 kph, the chances of dying in an accident increase dramatically. The ministry of the interior will review the measure after three to six months and make necessary adjustments with Puig saying, "we are not single minded people which has been the case over the last four years."
Artur Mas defended in front of King Juan Carlos the economic agreement in Catalunya and called for collaboration to improve the finances of the community (read article in Castilian here, El País). The Catalan president requested the meeting with the King to enhance Spanish public opinion and gain a fresh start in relations between Catalunya and the rest of Spain, needed after the ruling on the Statute. The King, who warmly hugged Mas congratulating him on his recent 55th birthday, expressed his concern in the 45 minute long meeting, over the PP parties continued attacks on the language policy in Catalunya and over the "clear slowdown in relations" that led to the TC ruling against the Catalan Estatut. Mas also emphasised the need to promote rail travel between France and the rest of Europe saying that the new AVE line will boast economic growth and create new jobs. Yesterday's meeting is said to be a preview to that scheduled with José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero on Monday.
Also in the news: Chelsea sign a €58 million deal for Spanish striker Fernando Torres, a record amount of money (read full article in Castilian here, El Periódico).
The future of the 080 fashion fair was left in doubt yesterday when the minister of enterprise, Francesc Xavier Mena couldn't confirm whether or not it would continue and left the decision to hold the seventh edition squarely at the feet of Artur Mas (read full article in Castilian here, El Periódico)