REGIONAL AND MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS 2015

Ada Colau backs bid to keep Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

But social activist and likely new mayor wants more of the revenue to revert to the city

Outgoing mayor Xavier Trias and Ada Colau meet at Barcelona City Hall on Thursday.
Outgoing mayor Xavier Trias and Ada Colau meet at Barcelona City Hall on Thursday.Consuelo Bautista

Ada Colau, the likely new mayor of Barcelona following her narrow victory in municipal elections on Sunday, has confirmed that she supports the city’s bid to keep hosting the Mobile World Congress (MWC), a high-profile tech event, until 2023.

The social activist and head of Barcelona en Comú (BComú), a left-wing bloc that includes the anti-austerity party Podemos, had suggested that she would review the contract as part of an overhaul of the way the Catalan capital is run.

I will work as mayor until the last second, because we can’t let our guard down”

Xavier Trias, outgoing mayor of Barcelona

The BComú coalition, which includes the leftist and green parties Initiative for Catalonia-Greens, the Catalan Republican Left (ERC), United and Alternative Left, Podemos Barcelona, Procés Constituent and Equo, campaigned on a pledge to review whether the international meeting was beneficial for Barcelona.

But at the Thursday meeting between Colau and outgoing mayor Xavier Trias, the former insisted that her group “has always been in favor” of keeping the event in the Catalan capital and does not want to change an agreement that was reached among all political forces in the local council prior to the elections.

But the deal is not closed yet, and sources at the GSMA, the association of major telephone companies and operators that organizes the MWC, told EL PAÍS that they were still analyzing bids by other cities. An announcement is expected by late June or early July.

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Trias, of the CiU Catalan nationalist bloc, said that he would do his best to ensure that the world’s biggest mobile telephony fair, which has been held in Barcelona since 2005, stays there. The current contract runs out in late 2018.

“I will work as mayor until the last second, because we can’t let our guard down,” said Trias.

The last MWC, held in March, attracted 90,000 visitors, created 12,500 temporary jobs and generated revenues of €436 million.

Colau did underscore, however, that she would ask to meet with MWC leaders to see how revenue can be better distributed in the city and contribute to the local economy year-round, rather than just once a year.

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