1. Overview of Administrative Law in Spain
The Spanish Public Administration serves the general interest of the Spanish citizens with objectivity. The bodies of the Administration of the State are created, governed and coordinated in accordance with the law.
The Spanish Public Administration acts in accordance with the principles of efficacy, hierarchy, decentralization, and coordination while fully complying with the law and legality.
The citizens may access to the administrative archives and registers except where it affects the security and defence of the State, the investigation of crimes, and the privacy of persons.
2. The structure of the Spanish Public Administration
The Spanish administration system is structured as follows:
- The General Administration of the nation (Administración General del Estado).
- The Administrations of the Autonomous Communities (Administraciones de las Comunidades Autónomas).
- The Entities which form the Local Administration (Administración Local), like the Town Halls (Ayuntamientos)..
- The Entities of Public Law with legal status depending on any Public Administration. There are a number of associations and organizations which are taking charge of public activities formerly handled by government administrations.
3. The General Administration of the nation
The following ministries form the General Administration of Spain:
- The Ministry of Public Administrations (El Ministerio de Administraciones Públicas).
- The Ministry of Agriculture, fisheries and food (Ministerio de Agricultura, Pesca y Alimentación).
- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (El Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores).
- The Ministry of Science and Technology (Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología).
- The Ministry of Defence (Ministerio de Defensa).
- The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports (Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte).
- The Ministry of Economy (Ministerio de Economía).
- The Ministry of Development (Ministerio de Fomento). ” The Tax Ministry (Ministerio de Hacienda).
- The Ministry of Public Safety (Ministerio del Interior).
- The Ministry of Justice (El Ministerio de Justicia).
- The Ministry of Environment (Ministerio de Medio Ambiente).
- The Presidence Ministry (Ministerio de la Presidencia).
- The Ministry of Health and Comsumer Affairs (Ministerio de Sanidad y Consumo).
- The Ministry of Labour and Social Services (Ministerio de Trabajo y Asuntos Sociales).
4. Main Spanish administrative bodies
Here are listed some of the Spanish organisms with which you may have direct contact while you are either visiting or residing in Spain, and which depend on the corresponding Ministriesin all that concerns patrimonial aspects, budget financing and management control.
- The Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (La Oficina Española de Patentes y Marcas – OEPM) is an autonomous body attached to the Science and Technology Ministry which protects the industrial property rights such as patents, trademarks, industrial designs and utility models upon receipt of an application for its registration. It also informs about the industrial property rights it had already registered as well as registered in other Patent Offices abroad.
- Public Universities and schools are affiliated to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, which coordinates them as well as other entities such as the Prado Museum or the National Library, which is the highest library institution of Spain and head of the Spanish libraries system.
- The Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade (Instituto español de Comercio Exterior-ICEX) is an independent agency that is attached to the Ministry of Economy which provides Spanish businesses with assistance aimed at promoting exports and supporting Spain’s presence in other markets abroad. This agency also designs and implements promotional and investment programs and at the same time informs about Spanish goods and services and about foreign markets.
- The Spanish state-operated railway network (RENFE – Red Nacional de Ferrocarriles Españoles) is a state-operated organization attached to the Ministry of Development.
- The Spanish state-operated TV (RTVE – Ente Público Televisión española), and the Spanish Tax Revenue Agency (Agencia estatal de Administración tributaria) are attached to the Spanish Tax Ministry.
- Central Traffic Authorities (Jefatura Central de Tráfico) and the Spanish Penitentiary Centres are attached to the Spanish Ministry of Public Safety.
- Spanish National Parks, e.g. Coto de Doñana…, are attached to the Environment Ministry.
- The Spanish Institute of Consumption (Instituto español de Consumo) is an autonomous body attached to the Spanish Ministry of Health and Consumer Affairs, which protects the consumer rights.
- The National Institute of Public Health Care (INSALUD – Instituto Nacional de la Salud) assumes the managerial functions of public health care and depends on the Ministry of Health and Consumer Affairs.
- The Spanish Institute of Employment (INEM – El Instituto Nacional de Empleo) is the public institution attached to the Spanish Ministry of Labour directly responsible for managing the employment policy. The INEM employment offices give you the opportunity to register with it as job-seeker, it recognizes the right to unemployment benefits, when applicable, it may inform you about employment offers, subsidies or specialized training programs for unemployed persons ;
- The Salary Guarantee Fund (FOGASA – Fondo de Garantía Salarial) is an autonomous body attached to the Labour Ministry, it guarantees payment of the salary and compensation that is pending of payment, in case of dismissal or termination of the employment when the contracting company becomes bankrupt or is in financial difficulties.
- The Social Security General Treasurership (TGSS – Tesorería General de la Seguridad Social) is attached to the Labour Ministry. It manages the financial resources of the Spanish Social Security System. All companies in Spain must be registered at this body, as well as the workers that those companies shall hire. It also controls the employers and employees’ social security contributions.
- The Spanish Institute of the Social Security (INSS – Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social) is attached to the Labour Ministry. It controls and recognizes the right to the subsidies that the Spanish Social Security grants. For instance:
- Retirement and permanent disability, provided that the workers had previously contributed to the Spanish Social Security System
- Temporary disability, maternity leave
- Subsidies in favour of the family: widow’s pension;
- The Institute of Migrations and Social Services (IMSERSO – El Instituto de Migraciones y Servicios Sociales) is attached to the Labour Ministry, it manages social services complementary to those provided by the Social Security to promote the welfare for old people, disabled and immigrants.
5. The Administration of the Autonomous Communities
The Spanish State is structured into 17 Autonomous Communities with full legislative and administrative powers.
The 17 autonomous communities are the following:
- Basque country
- Principality of Asturias
- Region of Murcia
- Community of Valencia
- The Canary islands
- Community of the Balearic islands
- Community of Madrid
- Community of Castile and Leon
And the cities of Ceuta an Melilla.
The Ministry of Public Administrations is empowered to organize the system of administration and civil servants and coordinate the public administrations in the autonomous regions.
6. The procedure for administrative actions
The administrative procedure provides the relationship between the Spanish citizens and the Spanish Public Administration (Administración Pública) granting the principle of equality of the citizens before the Administration. The Courts control the regulatory power and the legality of administrative acts as well as its compliance with the objectives which justify it.
If you have been prejudiced by the act that any of the bodies or civil servants of the Spanish Public Administration had taken, you may claim against it as follows:
- First, you should file your claim before the administrative body which act had caused you any damage. The resolution that the administrative body issues may be appealed.
- If you do not agree with its final decision, you may ask the administrative courts(Tribunales Contencioso-Administrativos) to review the action.
It is strongly advisable to consult a Spanish Lawyer whether to bring legal action or not. His intervention is always required in the administrative procedure.
7. Liability of the Spanish Administration
Private individuals, under the terms established by the law, are entitled to an indemnity for any harm they suffer in any of their property and rights, except if these were caused by force majeure, whenever such harm is the result of the functioning of the public services (e.g. in case of medical negligence).
The individuals have a period of 1 year since they suffered the damages, to claim against the Administrative body that caused them. The decision the administration issues may be appealed.
8. Getting legal help
We can help you in any steps you take before the Spanish govermental agencies. Purchase a legal consultation for a fixed one-off price: