Switzerland's largest newspaper by circulation, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, has published an article which counters some of the claims made by some in Spain that Catalonia's political situation is harming its economy. The newspaper reports that Barcelona is "one of the most dynamic regions for startups in Europe". "Despite the unresolved political crisis, ever more foreign firms are settling in Catalonia," reads the article's standfirst.
The newspaper highlights the importance of 22@Barcelona, a non-profit which helps members of the public to start their own businesses, as well as that of the annual Mobile World Congress: "The best advertisement for the digital spirit of optimism is the Mobile World Congress, the world congress in the field of mobile communications, which takes place in Barcelona every year. Not least thanks to this trade fair is the information and communications sector, with around 16,000 companies, over 100,000 employees and an annual turnover of more than €16 billion, one of the most important growth sectors in Catalonia."
According to NZZ, just last year, Barcelona Activa helped 25,000 people looking for work or who had a specific business idea. "If an idea is persuasive, it just needs a single hour of help from Barcelona Activa to found a firm. Special attention is paid to the promotion of women. And also seniors can learn how to use new technologies here."
The newspaper writes that technology quarter 22@, with its Torre Glòries, "the oval tower which gleams in the sunlight, which has shaped up into the city's new architectural icon" plays an important role in Barcelona's economy. They note that among the companies who've recently moved into the 32-storey building are Facebook and Amazon.
"The political conflict is simply being ignored", reads a later subheading. "Despite the political uncertainties and the unresolved conflict over the independence of Catalonia from Spain, 8,600 foreign companies have settled in the wealthy region, 22% more than 2017. Firms like Nestlé, Siemens and Roche have set up new technology centres in the Barcelona metropolitan area, a region where the automobile, chemical and pharmaceutical industries have always been strongly represented".
One of the key talking points for supporters of Spanish unity has been companies moving their registered headquarters out of Catalonia since 2017. The article says that whilst there were "more than 4,000" of them, they were "mainly local companies", and the "productions plants stayed almost without exception in Catalonia, which meant the moves had no effect whatsoever on employment figures or sales in the region".