Autonomous communities

Business 1A READER has asked me why there are different laws within the Spanish territory, such as National Laws and Autonomous Community Laws, (without taking into account European Law) and how can we distinguish each one.

To outline this in a column is a challenge, but I will try to explain this by summarising the Spanish legal system.

The system applied by Spanish law is the one called “continental system”: simplifying it, is a system based in the law considered as a group of codes (laws and regulations). In Spain this system is very complex as there are many autonomous communities (Comunidades Autónomas, like the Canary Islands) with their own legislation coexisting with the National law. The supreme Law is the Constitution (created in 1978), which regulates the functions of public bodies (government, authorities), the fundamental rights of the Spanish citizens and the organization and competencies of the different Autonomous Communities.

All laws in Spain must be declared compatible with the Constitution (all laws in breach with the Constitution are null). The Constitutional Court is the judicial authority that controls this matter. Do not be confused with the Supreme Court which is the Highest Court in Spain but different of the Constitutional Court.

The Constitution is the supreme Law. Below the Constitution there are other regulations such us: International Treaties; Law in strict sense (Organic Law, Ordinary Law), Regulatory Laws (Decrees) and rules coming from the Executive Power (i.e.: Ministerial Order).

In addition, Autonomous Communities have the power to regulate areas of their competence and can create laws valid within its territory (i.e.: laws created by the Canarian Parliament). Finally, the local authorities (Town Halls) have regulatory activity.

The Constitution also regulates the competence of the Autonomous Communities in relation to their capacity to create internal Laws (Autonomous Community Law) through their own Parliaments. The Statute of Autonomy is the supreme Law of every Autonomous Community. Take into account that the Statute of Autonomy cannot be in breach with the Constitution.

A special consideration must be done in relation to the European Laws. All laws coming from EU institutions are directly applicable in Spain because of the Treaty of European Union and part of the internal Law in Spain.

Although this matter is a bit difficult to understand (I have simplified it), it explains why there are rules that come from the National Authorities (Parliament) and others that are valid within the Canary territory. In future columns I will be back to this matter.

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Posted by on Feb 13 2015. Filed under Legal Matters. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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