The OECD Review of Better Regulation in Spain is one of a series of country reports launched by the OECD in partnership with the European Commission. The objective is to assess regulatory management capacities in the 15 original member states of the European Union (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom). This includes trends in their development, identifying gaps in relation to good practice as defined by the OECD and the EU in their guidelines and policies for Better Regulation.
Abbreviations and Acronyms
Country Profile – Spain
Since the return to democracy, Spain has enjoyed one of Europe’s highest economic growth rates, and developed into the world’s 12th largest economy. The Spanish government has implemented a wide range of economic and structural reforms over the last three decades, focusing on deregulation and liberalisation, which has reduced the role of government in the market.
Introduction: Conduct of the review
The current review of Spain reflects contributions from the Spanish government and discussions at meetings held in Madrid on 18 May and 22-26 June 2009 by an OECD peer review team with Spanish officials and external stakeholders. Major new developments since the mission in May 2009 and May 2010 are referenced but not fully evaluated.
Strategy and policies for Better Regulation
Regulatory policy may be defined broadly as an explicit, dynamic, and consistent "whole-of-government" policy to pursue high quality regulation. A key part of the OECD’s 2005 Guiding Principles for Regulatory Quality and Performance is that countries adopt broad programmes of regulatory reform that establish principles of "good regulation", as well as a framework for implementation. Experience across the OECD suggests that an effective regulatory policy should be adopted at the highest political levels, contain explicit and measurable regulatory quality standards, and provide for continued regulatory management capacity.
Institutional capacities for Better Regulation
Regulatory management needs to find its place in a country’s institutional architecture, and have support from all the relevant institutions. The institutional framework within which Better Regulation must exert influence extends well beyond the executive centre of government, although this is the main starting point. The legislature and the judiciary, regulatory agencies and the subnational levels of government, as well as international structures (notably, for this project, the EU), also play critical roles in the development, implementation and enforcement of policies and regulations.
Transparency through consultation and communication
Transparency is one of the central pillars of effective regulation, supporting accountability, sustaining confidence in the legal environment, making regulations more secure and accessible, less influenced by special interests, and therefore more open to competition, trade and investment. It involves a range of actions including standardised procedures for making and changing regulations, consultation with stakeholders, effective communication and publication of regulations and plain language drafting, codification, controls on administrative discretion, and effective appeals processes. It can involve a mix of formal and informal processes. Techniques such as common commencement dates (CCDs) can make it easier for business to digest regulatory requirements. The contribution of e-Government to improve transparency, consultation and communication is of growing importance.
The development of new regulations
Predictable and systematic procedures for making regulations improve the transparency of the regulatory system and the quality of decisions. These include forward planning (the periodic listing of forthcoming regulations), administrative procedures for the management of rule-making, and procedures to secure the legal quality of new regulations (including training and guidance for legal drafting, plain language drafting, and oversight by expert bodies).
The management and rationalisation of existing regulations
This chapter covers two areas of regulatory policy. The first is simplification of regulations. The large stock of regulations and administrative formalities accumulated over time needs regular review and updating to remove obsolete or inefficient material. Approaches vary from consolidation, codification, recasting, repeal, ad hoc reviews of the regulations covering specific sectors, and sun setting mechanisms for the automatic review or cancellation of regulations past a certain date.
Compliance, enforcement, appeals
Whilst adoption and communication of a law sets the framework for achieving a policy objective, effective implementation, compliance and enforcement are essential for actually meeting the objective. An ex ante assessment of compliance and enforcement prospects is increasingly a part of the regulatory process in OECD countries. Within the EU's institutional context these processes include the correct transposition of EU rules into national legislation (this aspect will be considered in Chapter 7).
The interface between member states and the EU
An increasing proportion of national regulations originate at EU level. Whilst EU regulations have direct application in member states and do not have to be transposed into national regulations, EU directives need to be transposed, raising the issue of how to ensure that the regulations implementing EU legislation are fully coherent with the underlying policy objectives, do not create new barriers to the smooth functioning of the EU Single Market and avoid "gold-plating" and the placing of unnecessary burdens on business and citizens. Transposition also needs to be timely, to minimise the risk of uncertainty as regards the state of the law, especially for business.
The interface between subnational and national levels of government
Multilevel regulatory governance – that is to say, taking into account the rule-making and rule-enforcement activities of all the different levels of government, not just the national level – is another core element of effective regulatory management. The OECD’s 2005 Guiding Principles for Regulatory Quality and Performance "encourage Better Regulation at all levels of government, improved co-ordination, and the avoidance of overlapping responsibilities among regulatory authorities and levels of government". It is relevant to all countries that are seeking to improve their regulatory management, whether they are federations, unitary states or somewhere in between.
Annex A. e-Government
Initial plans included the España.es and Conecta plans managed by the then Ministry of Public Administration. Between 2005 and 2008, the government’s action was framed by the so-called Plan Moderniza, which included some 16 measures to improve the quality, transparency, and accessibility of the services provided by the AGE. Current e-Government initiatives benefit directly from the preparatory work carried out in that framework.
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