Rule of Law in Spain

Justice

Effective justice systems are essential for upholding the rule of law. Independence, quality and efficiency are the defined parameters of an effective justice system, whatever the model of the national legal system and tradition in which it is anchored. Whilst the organisation of justice in the Member States falls within the competence of the Member States, when they are exercising that competence, Member States must ensure that their national justice systems provide for effective judicial protection. The independence of national courts is fundamental to ensuring such judicial protection. National courts ensure that the rights and obligations provided under EU law are enforced effectively. As re-affirmed by the European Court of Justice, the very existence of effective judicial review to ensure compliance with EU law is of the essence for the rule of law. Effective justice systems are also the basis for mutual trust, which is the bedrock of the common area of freedom, justice and security, an investment friendly environment, the sustainability of long-term growth and the protection of EU financial interests. The European Court of Justice has further clarified the requirements stemming from EU law regarding judicial independence. The case-law of the European Court of Human Rights also provides for key standards to be respected to safeguard judicial independence.

Independence

yellow
The Council for the Judiciary has been exercising its functions ad interim since December 2018.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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The level of perceived judicial independence is average
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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The relation between the Prosecutor General and the executive is being discussed
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Quality

yellow
Draft legislation amending the Code of Criminal Procedure is being prepared
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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The use of ICT tools is well established in the justice system and investment in digitalisation continues
View source | Our evaluation: green
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The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the functioning of the justice system.
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Efficiency

yellow
The duration of court proceedings in Spain is increasing
View source | Our evaluation: red
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Spain is taking measures to increase efficiency in courts
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Anti-corruption

The fight against corruption is essential for maintaining the rule of law. Corruption undermines the functioning of the state and of public authorities at all levels and is a key enabler of organised crime 48 . Effective anti-corruption frameworks, transparency and integrity in the exercise of state power can strengthen legal systems and trust in public authorities. Fighting corruption needs to be based on evidence about its prevalence and form in a given country, the conditions that enable corruption and the legal, institutional and other incentives that can be used to prevent, detect and sanction corruption.

Institutional Framework

red
Spain scores 62/100 in the Transparency International 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index and ranks 10th in the European Union and 30th globally4
View source | Our evaluation: red
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Prevention

yellow
There is no dedicated overall anti-corruption strategy in place
View source | Our evaluation: red
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The rules on asset disclosure, conflict of interests and incompatibilities are not consistent across various levels of Government and categories of officials.
View source | Our evaluation: red
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The Council of Transparency and Good Governance monitors access to information, compliance with transparency obligations and good governance
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Provisions on ethics and conflicts of interests have been established as regards Government and senior officials
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Whistle-blower protection and lobbying regulation require attention
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Repressive measures

green
Spain has strengthened its legal framework to cover extensively the criminalisation and prosecution of corruption-related offences, as well as the criminal liability of legal entities for bribery and corruption in international commercial transactions
View source | Our evaluation: green
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The investigation and prosecution of corruption offences is divided between several law enforcement authorities
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Media Freedom

All Member States have legal frameworks in place to protect media freedom and pluralism and EU citizens broadly enjoy high standards of media freedom and pluralism. Freedom of expression, media freedom and pluralism and the right of access to information are generally enshrined in the Constitution or in secondary law. Media pluralism and media freedom are key enablers for the rule of law, democratic accountability and the fight against corruption. The murders of journalists who were investigating high-level corruption and organised crime allegations have been a wake-up call reminding Member States of the obligation to guarantee an enabling environment for journalists, protect their safety and pro-actively promote media freedom and media pluralism.

Regulatory authorities

green
Regulatory powers for audio-visual media services are entrusted to the CNMC (National Commission of Markets and Competition)
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Transparency of Media

yellow
Provisions regarding the transparency of media ownership are enshrined in the General Law for Audio-visual Communication
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Legislative provisions regulate the contracting of state advertising and institutional campaigns
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Journalists' Protection

yellow
Media freedom is protected by law
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Civil society has raised concerns as regards the protection of freedom of information
View source | Our evaluation: yellow
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Other Institutional Issues

Institutional checks and balances are at the core of the rule of law. They guarantee the functioning, cooperation and mutual control of State organs so that power is exercised by one state authority with the scrutiny of others. In addition to an effective justice systems, checks and balances rely on a transparent, accountable, democratic and pluralistic process for enacting laws, the separation of powers, the constitutional and judicial review of laws, a transparent and high-quality public administration as well as effective independent authorities such as ombudsperson institutions or national human rights institutions.

Preparing and enacting laws

green
Spain has a mixed regime for the constitutional review of laws.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Stakeholders are involved in the legislative procedure, and there are safeguards for transparency.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Emergency powers were used in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Civil Society

green
Spain has developed so-called ‘Open Government Plans’.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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Independent Authorities

green
The protection of fundamental rights is ensured by independent authorities.
View source | Our evaluation: green
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