Barcelona City Council at the forefront of COVID-19

  • April 27, 2020

  • Barcelona, Spain


Spain is the country second hardest hit by COVID-19, with 208,389 confirmed cases and 21,717 deaths, as of April 22. There have been 43,802 cases and 4,247 deaths in Catalonia.

Cities that have robust governance and health infrastructure in place are in a better position to manage pandemics and lower fatality rates and excess mortality than those that do not. Adopting a combination of proactive testing, routine communication, rapid isolation and personal and community protection (e.g. social distancing) measures is critical.

In Barcelona, the City Council and the Coordination Centre for the Economic Response are leading the economic reaction to the crisis.

Fund with 25 million euros to help the city’s economic sectors

The Barcelona City Council is creating a fund of 25 million euros to support the economic stakeholders to deal with their tax affairs after the COVID-19 outbreak.

The aim of this fund is to anticipate the economic crisis resulting from COVID-19 and provide an emergency response to the city's economic situation, particularly for the self-employed and SMEs.

This initial fund is the result of an extraordinary mobilization of resources and will be used for subsidies and the implementation of action promoted by the City Council and resulting from the agreement with economic sectors in the city.

Creation of the Coordination Centre for the Economic Response

The Coordination Center for the Economic Response (CECORE) has been created to activate Barcelona’s economy in response to the COVID-19 situation. It sets strategic lines to position Barcelona as the engine of economic recovery of the whole country and establish measures aimed at preserving employment.

The objectives of the CECORE are to:

  • monitor the economic situation of the city of Barcelona and establish projections that allow for the best decision-making;
  • keep track of the situation with the municipal budget and develop the right responses for economic activation;
  • coordinate municipal actions with economic and social stakeholders and forge alliances with the rest of administrations.

The CECORE will implement specific activation measures in each economic sphere: business, enterprise and the self-employed; tourism and creative industries; markets, commerce and consumption; social and solidarity economy; city promotion and branding; quality employment; industrial reactivation and sports and economic activity.

Other fiscal and economic measures taken by the City Council

The deadline for paying most municipal taxes has been extended to reduce the burden on economic activities as a result of COVID-19. One of the first measures adopted by the Barcelona City Council is to postpone the municipal Tax on Stays in Tourist Establishments (IEET) until after the summer campaign to reduce the fiscal pressure from the tourism sector, one of the most affected by the health crisis so far. The initial forecast for the collection of this surcharge this year was 18 million euros.

Other fiscal aid includes postponement of charges and paying by instalments on property tax, road tax, capital gains, bar terraces, and public charges for collecting commercial and industrial waste.

A large city-level political pact on socio-economic issues was proposed on April 16. It will be a tool for managing the economic consequences of the crisis, working with the maximum political consensus and joining forces with all municipal groups.

The goals of the pact include:

  • Working with the aim of reviving the economy;
  • Agreeing on measures and lines of action;
  • Overcoming this situation as soon as possible;
  • Advancing the transformation of the city's economic model towards a greener model with digital economy.

Requesting central government for more tools to accelerate economic recovery in large cities

In order to make big cities a key driver of economic recovery and to multiply the policies of all European, state and national administrations, the Barcelona City Council has requested the State to provide more tools for big cities to accelerate economic recovery.

The Barcelona City Council has addressed to the State by letter, in conjunction with the group of seven most populous cities, to request that there be tools available to fully explore the budget capacity and allow the large cities like Barcelona to maintain good financial positions, to have mechanisms to reduce the decrease in income while keeping active all the budgetary and investing potential of the cities.

Blog entry written by Amadou Sy, , edited by Nan Zhang.