Catalonia crisis fuels Mobile World Congress fears Europe

Following a general strike in Catalonia 8 November, as separatists continue to demonstrate for independence, there are fears that Barcelona could lose one of the technology sector’s biggest exhibitions.

The GSMA, organiser of the annual Mobile World Congress, has not confirmed if it will hold the event in Barcelona beyond next year.

GSMA chief executive John Hoffman, said that the prospects for next year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona were positive, however he has called for guarantees of “political stability”.

A spokesman for the association said: “The GSMA will monitor developments in Spain and Catalonia to see if they have any impact on the congress.”

Should GSMA move the congress out of the city, Barcelona would lose out on €450m in business connected with the arrival of 100,000 delegates.

The fears over Mobile World Congress follow the news that Barcelona’s chances of hosting the European Medicines Agency (EMA) were dealt a blow when EU diplomats said that political instability in Catalonia had harmed its chances of being the new venue.

A decision on where the EMA will move after it leaves London after Brexit will be announced on 20 November.

Following the ousting of Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, who left for Belgium, Spain’s prime minister Mariano Rajoy has called a fresh election in December and placed Catalonia under direct rule.

No country has so far recognised the secession declaration made on 27 October by the former Catalan government.

Reed, meanwhile, has confirmed that its ibtm world trade show will go ahead as normal in Gran Via later this month.