Participants in Global Dialogue roundtable on intergovernmental relations in Spain included (left to right) Xavier ArbÃ³s, MarÃa JesÃºs GarcÃa Morales, Carles Viver and Miguel Ã?ngel Cabellos
While Spain’s constitution does not define the country as federal, the decentralized nature of its government makes intergovernmental relations a highly relevant issue.
Intergovernmental relations among a country’s states, provinces and other subnational units are noteworthy because they are indicative of the level of interaction and collaboration among a federation’s constituent units.
This was the topic of discussion of at a recent Forum roundtable, part of its Global Dialogue on Federalism series, where 35 Spanish government officials, academics and federalism experts hashed out the issue.
In 1978, Spain enacted a new constitution that allowed some provinces and territories the right to self-government. By 1986, 17 so called "autonomous communities” had been created (as set out in the Statutes of Autonomy governing the communities). Also, two cities, Ceuta and Melilla, were granted autonomous status by the Spanish Parliament. While use of the term "federal” is often controversial in Spain, many federalism experts maintain that Spain meets the basic criteria to be considered a federation.
Participants at the roundtable discussed relations between the central government and the autonomous communities and issues between the autonomous communities themselves.
The combination of bilateral and multilateral relations between the central government and the autonomous communities was the most controversial topic of the day. In the end though, participants agreed that there are lively intergovernmental relations among Spain’s constituent units, which is a positive outcome of the country’s decentralization process.
The roundtable, held at the Institut d’Estudis AutonÃ²mics in Barcelona on March 23, 2009, was coordinated by MarÃa JesÃºs GarcÃa Morales of the Autonomous University of Barcelona.
Participants included: Carles Viver, Director of the Institut d’Estudis AutonÃ²mics; Pedro AguilÃ³, Government of the Balearic Islands; Eliseo Aja, University of Barcelona; Enoch AlbertÃ, University of Barcelona; Pere Almeda, Government of Catalonia; Xavier ArbÃ³s, University of Girona; Xavier BernadÃ, Government of Catalonia; Miguel Ã?ngel Cabellos, Institut d’Estudis AutonÃ²mics; CÃ©sar Colino, UNED; Jordi Conde, Government of Catalonia; MercÃ¨ Corretja, Institut d’Estudis AutonÃ²mics; Xavier de Pedro, Government of Aragon; Francisco del RÃo, Government of Andalusia; JesÃºs DivassÃ³n, Government of Aragon; Rosa-Felicitat Escrihuela, Institut d’Estudis AutonÃ²mics; Ã?ngeles GarcÃa FrÃas, Constitutional Court; MarÃa JesÃºs GarcÃa Morales, Autonomous University of Barcelona; Mireia Grau, Institut d’Estudis AutonÃ²mics; Juan JosÃ© LÃ³pez Burniol, Notary public; Diana Mampel, Government of Catalonia; Elena MarquesÃ¡n, Government of Aragon; Gerard MartÃn, Institut d’Estudis AutonÃ²mics; Helena Mora, Institut d’Estudis AutonÃ²mics; JosÃ© MarÃ, Parliament of the Comunidad Valenciana; Francisco PeÃ±a, Spanish Senate; BegoÃ±a PÃ©rez de Eulate, Government of Basque Country; JosÃ© MarÃa PÃ©rez Medina, Spanish Prime Minister’s Office; MarÃa del Mar PÃ©rez Velasco, Government of Catalonia; Antonio Revilla, Government of Catalonia; Ramon Riu, Government of Catalonia; Ignacio SaÃ©z, Government of Castilla y LeÃ³n; Ignacio SÃ¡nchez, Parliament of Extremadura; Agata Solernou, Government of Catalonia; Santiago Valencia, Government of Galicia; and Maite Vilalta, University of Barcelona and Joan VintrÃ³, University of Barcelona.