Spain

   

Executive Capacity

#15
Key Findings
Despite the succession of relatively weak governments during the review period, Spain falls into the upper-middle ranks (rank 15) with regard to executive capacity. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.4 points relative to 2014.

The political instability of both minority governments in power during the review period undermined strategic planning capacities. The incoming PSOE government increased the number of expert advisors. The powerful prime minister’s office consults closely with line ministries on high-profile policy development. High-level coordination is more effective than mid-level interdepartmental interaction.

RIA quality is mixed, but a recently passed measure may help focus and improve analyses. The Rajoy government deepened consultations with economic groups as the recovery gained strength, and the Sanchez expanded contacts with societal actors further. The Rajoy government’s communication on the Catalonia crisis in particular was weak, but Sanchez’ communications practices improved,

Recent governments’ minority status has made it difficult to pass and implement policies, especially the annual budget. Powerful economic groups have been able to block the passage of regulatory legislation. Prime Minister Sanchez has played a larger role than his predecessor in seeking a common European migration policy.

Strategic Capacity

#9

How much influence do strategic planning units and bodies have on government decision-making?

10
 9

Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions, and they exercise strong influence on government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions. Their influence on government decision-making is systematic but limited in issue scope or depth of impact.
 5
 4
 3


Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions. Occasionally, they exert some influence on government decision-making.
 2
 1

In practice, there are no units and bodies taking a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions.
Strategic Planning
7
The idea of reinforcing long-term thinking and smarter policymaking has drawn increasing political attention in Spain during the crisis. Several key areas including economic policy (structural reforms), security and external action, are addressed through strategic documents that receive annual evaluations. However the political instability of the PP minority government (2016 – 2018) and of the subsequent PSOE minority government has undermined the government’s strategic-planning capacities.

During 2018, sectoral strategies have been published or announced in the areas of foreign policy, cybersecurity, the pensions system, poverty reduction and gender equality. The Prime Minister’s Office, which is the central actor for the government strategic planning, has been reinforced and new policy units (the High Commissioner for Combating Child Poverty and the High Commissioner for the Agenda 2030) have been established, helping to bolster the government’s priorities and expertise. In July 2018, the Council of Ministers approved the Action Plan for the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda: Towards a Strategy for Sustainable Development, in which all ministerial departments, regions, local authorities and civil society organizations participated.

Citations:
Government (2018), Implementation of the 2030 Agenda: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/203295182018_VNR_Report_Spain_EN_ddghpbrgsp.pdf

Does the government regularly take into account advice from non-governmental experts during decision-making?

10
 9

In almost all cases, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


For major political projects, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 2
 1

The government does not consult with non-governmental experts, or existing consultations lack transparency entirely and/or are exclusively pro forma.
Expert Advice
7
There is no formalized and systematic connection between the government and external thinking. Policymakers do not rely on specialists for advice on matters of political strategy, although university scholars, think tank analysts and practitioners are often consulted by ministries on legal, economic, welfare and international issues – particularly at the beginning of any legislative process to prepare the draft bill and to assess its impact. The deep political and economic crisis may also have facilitated the government’s willingness to ask for external advice when engaged in institutional redesign (e.g., two panels of external experts were created in recent years to advise the Popular Party government in its pension- and education-system reforms). Some recent trends, such as the emergence of several think tanks, may over time strengthen the influence of external experts. In addition, the parliamentary committee tasked with studying Spain’s current territorial model and preparing a report for a constitutional reform organized numerous hearings with experts. The new Pedro Sanchez government appointed a number of scholars and technical experts to high-level positions in the public administration, and increased the overall number of government advisors.

Citations:
20 minutos, Sánchez nombra a 66 altos cargos y asesores más que Rajoy en 2011
https://www.20minutos.es/noticia/3382734/0/gobierno-sanchez-mas-asesores-altos-cargos-rajoy/

Interministerial Coordination

#6

Does the government office / prime minister’s office (GO / PMO) have the expertise to evaluate ministerial draft bills according to the government’s priorities?

10
 9

The GO / PMO provides regular, independent evaluations of draft bills for the cabinet / prime minister. These assessments are guided exclusively by the government’s priorities.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO evaluates most draft bills according to the government’s priorities.
 5
 4
 3


The GO / PMO can rely on some sectoral policy expertise but does not evaluate draft bills.
 2
 1

The GO / PMO does not have any sectoral policy expertise. Its role is limited to collecting, registering and circulating documents submitted for cabinet meetings.
GO Expertise
8
Spain’s Government Office (Ministry of the Presidency) and Prime Minister’s Office (Gabinete) are tasked with evaluating line-ministry proposals from the political and technical points of view. The two departments together form the very powerful political core of the executive. In general, these different units have ample staff with specific policy expertise, whose task is to substantively assess draft bills and other important sectoral initiatives to ensure they are compatible with the government’s strategic and budgetary priorities. The internal structure of the Prime Minister’s Office vaguely reflects the various ministerial portfolios, although without achieving a comprehensive policy expertise that enables perfect oversight throughout the executive. For its part, the Government Office, which is also responsible for organizing the Council of Ministers’ cycle of sessions, and whose head is the powerful deputy prime minister, has no sectoral-policy expertise, but also evaluates the substantive content of draft bills to some extent. Nevertheless, despite the extensive constitutional and political strength of the Spanish premiership, these units enjoy only limited administrative resources. Their relatively small size is perhaps explained by the hierarchical, single-party nature of the Spanish government, in which it is not particularly necessary to monitor sectoral ministers from the center.

Citations:
Structure of the Ministry of the Presidency
https://administracion.gob.es/pagFront/espanaAdmon/directorioOrganigramas/fichaUnidadOrganica.htm?idUnidOrganica=171&origenUO=gobiernoEstado&volver=volverFicha#.W8m9MWgzY2w

To what extent do line ministries involve the government office/prime minister’s office in the preparation of policy proposals?

10
 9

There are inter-related capacities for coordination between GO/PMO and line ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The GO/PMO is regularly briefed on new developments affecting the preparation of policy proposals.
 5
 4
 3


Consultation is rather formal and focuses on technical and drafting issues.
 2
 1

Consultation occurs only after proposals are fully drafted as laws.
Line Ministries
8
Both the Government Office (GO) and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) are regularly briefed on new developments affecting the preparation of policy proposals by line ministries. Although these offices are formally autonomous, the legal and political hierarchy within the government facilitates and even encourages this pattern of consultation with the prime minister’s entourage. Consultation with the GO tends to focus on drafting or technical issues, while the PMO is more interested in political and strategic considerations. The process is firmly institutionalized and takes place weekly, since representatives of all ministries gather at the cabinet meeting preparatory committee, which is held every Wednesday and chaired by the GO head and the deputy prime minister. Advisers from the PMO also participate in this committee and in the important specialized ministerial committee on economic affairs (see “Cabinet Committees”) that also assists the Council of Ministers. However, even if the primary joint role of the GO and the PMO is horizontal coordination, their staff resources are limited, and cannot be briefed on the whole range of government activity. Therefore, they normally focus on each ministerial department’s most important sectoral developments.

Citations:
Paniagua (2018), La Moncloa, in: Lanzaro (coord.) Centros de Gobierno, Tecnos, Madrid.
Ley 39/2015
September 2018, Politico, Sánchez’s 100 days of commotion, https://www.politico.eu/article/pedro-sanchez-spain-100-days-of-commotion/

How effectively do ministerial or cabinet committees coordinate cabinet proposals?

10
 9

The vast majority of cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated first by committees.
 8
 7
 6


Most cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated by committees, in particular proposals of political or strategic importance.
 5
 4
 3


There is little review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees.
 2
 1

There is no review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees. Or: There is no ministerial or cabinet committee.
Cabinet Committees
9
Two powerful ministerial committees effectively prepare cabinet meetings in Spain: the Committee for Economic Affairs, and the Committee of Undersecretaries and Secretaries of State. The Committee for Economic Affairs normally meets on Thursdays to review and schedule economic or budgetary interministerial coordination. This committee has been chaired since June 2018 by the minister of economy and business, and also includes the other ministers and secretaries of state who hold economic responsibilities. For its part, the Committee of Undersecretaries and Secretaries of State effectively filters out and settles issues prior to cabinet meetings. This committee of top officials meets every Wednesday to prepare the Council of Ministers’ weekly sessions, which are held every Friday (see “Ministerial Bureaucracy” for further details). No cabinet member participates apart from the deputy prime minister, who serves as its chairperson. Spain’s only Council of Ministers committee composed exclusively of cabinet members is the Foreign Policy Council, which meets only about once a year. Other ministerial committees are regulated by Royal Decree 694/2018.

Citations:
Real Decreto 694/2018
Real Decreto 595/2018

How effectively do ministry officials/civil servants coordinate policy proposals?

10
 9

Most policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
 8
 7
 6


Many policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
 5
 4
 3


There is some coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
 2
 1

There is no or hardly any coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
Ministerial Bureaucracy
7
The two most important senior bureaucratic positions in the 17 ministries are the secretaries of state, who play a role much like that of junior ministers but do not formally belong to the government, and the undersecretaries, who are career civil servants who typically act as department administrators. These figures meet every Wednesday in the so-called General Committee of Undersecretaries and Secretaries of State. This committee effectively prepares the Council of Ministers’ weekly sessions, which are held two days later, on Fridays. The deputy prime minister and head of the Government Office (GO) chairs the meetings of this preparatory committee in which all draft bills, all appointments and any other ministerial proposals are discussed and scheduled as a part of the Council of Ministers’ agenda. A provisional agenda is published by the GO a week before the cabinet meeting. The GO also collects and circulates all relevant documents for discussion by the line ministers. On Tuesday mornings, the prime minister’s advisers assess the relative importance of agenda items and identify where there are likely to be divergent positions. Thus, the Wednesday meetings of the preparatory committee perform an important gatekeeping function in returning problematic proposals to the appropriate line ministry and forwarding the remaining proposals to the Council of Ministers.

While policy proposals are efficiently coordinated at the highest level of the bureaucratic hierarchy, the tradition of interministerial coordination at mid-level administrative bureaucracy means efficiency is weaker here. To be sure, the role of high-ranking civil servants is crucial in the preparation of policy proposals within every line ministry, but their subsequent involvement in horizontal coordination with other ministries is very limited. In fact, and as a consequence of the strong departmentalization, every ministry tends to act within its area of competence or jurisdiction, avoiding proposals which may involve other ministries. Although many administrative interministerial committees formally exist, in practice these committees do not coordinate the drafting of policy proposals or decision-making between different ministries. As administrative committees do not tend to work efficiently, they have fallen by the wayside and now usually simply facilitate the exchange of information or try to settle jurisdictional conflicts

Citations:
Ley 50/1997
Real Decreto 595/2018

How effectively do informal coordination mechanisms complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination?

10
 9

Informal coordination mechanisms generally support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 8
 7
 6


In most cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 2
 1

Informal coordination mechanisms tend to undermine rather than complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
Informal Coordination
8
The relative weakness of formal coordination among ministry civil servants in Spain is to some extent compensated for by helpful informal procedures. When interministerial problems cannot be solved informal contacts, or meetings between officials of the various ministries involved are organized. Many policy proposals can in fact be coordinated in this fashion. As senior civil servants are clustered into different specialized bureaucratic corps, informal mechanisms rely often on the fact that officials involved in the coordination may belong to the same corps or share a network of old colleagues. Nevertheless, the existence of specialized corps tends to aggravate administrative fragmentation, since every corps tends to control a department according to its specialization. In this sense, the administration seems to follow a “silo” structure, in which each ministry, department, agency, organism or public entity follows its own operating logic. Within the cabinet, these informal mechanisms are less necessary, since the stable experience of single-party governments with strong prime ministers has up to this point required less coordination than would coalition cabinets.

Citations:
Círculo de Empresarios (2018), La calidad de las instituciones en España. https://circulodeempresarios.org/app/uploads/2018/04/Calidad-insti-CdE-WEB.pdf

How extensively and effectively are digital technologies used to support interministerial coordination (in policy development and monitoring)?

10
 9

The government uses digital technologies extensively and effectively to support interministerial coordination.
 8
 7
 6


The government uses digital technologies in most cases and somewhat effectively to support interministerial coordination.
 5
 4
 3


The government uses digital technologies to a lesser degree and with limited effects to support interministerial coordination.
 2
 1

The government makes no substantial use of digital technologies to support interministerial coordination.
Digitalization for Interministerial C.
8
Spain ranks 14th out of the 28 EU Member States in the EC 2017 Digital Economy and Society Index. The performance of Spain is especially remarkable in the area of Digital Public Services. Law 18/2015 on data reuse and data transparency has promoted a culture of open data within the public administration, and the public sector is quickly progressing with regard to the integration of digital technologies. In recent years, a number of laws have been updated and procedures improved with the aim of exploring the potential of digital technologies and structures. Moreover, shared interdepartmental platforms (such as the Cl@ve platform) and shared services have been developed. According to the Digital Transformation Plan for the General Administration and Public Agencies (ICT Strategy 2015 – 2020), all ministries are required to draft digital-transformation action plans. These are to include means of simplifying inter-departmental working procedures, the electronic exchange of information between administrative units, the issue of information classification, and the implementation of standards for the exchange of information. The secretary of state for digital progress at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism is responsible for the implementation of the Digital Agenda for Spain.
Spain’s decentralized structure has created challenges in establishing a coherent and nationwide interministerial e-government coordination plan. However, the ICT Strategy 2015 – 2020 and the Law on Common Administrative Procedures have together created a strategic framework for inter-administrative compatibility and coordination.

Citations:
EC (2017), Europe’s Digital Progress Report, Country Profile Spain,

Spanish government (2015), ICT STRATEGY 2015-2020

Evidence-based Instruments

#25

To what extent does the government assess the potential impacts of existing and prepared legal acts (regulatory impact assessments, RIA)?

10
 9

RIA are applied to all new regulations and to existing regulations which are characterized by complex impact paths. RIA methodology is guided by common minimum standards.
 8
 7
 6


RIA are applied systematically to most new regulations. RIA methodology is guided by common minimum standards.
 5
 4
 3


RIA are applied in some cases. There is no common RIA methodology guaranteeing common minimum standards.
 2
 1

RIA are not applied or do not exist.
RIA Application
5
The law on the common administrative procedure (Law 39/2015), which came into force in October 2016, includes a promising provision (indeed, an entire chapter) devoted to ensuring that lawmaking in the future will take place in accordance with the principles of “smart regulation” and “better regulation.” This development, which is based on OECD recommendations, seeks to guarantee that the administration engages in systematic planning before laws are drafted, while creating a more sophisticated RIA process and producing regulations that are proportional to the political goal and more congruent with other laws. However, though opportunities to apply RIA may be expanding in Spain, there has to date been little concern for the quality of legislation beyond the formal legal considerations that are monitored by the Council of State.

Citations:
Ley 39/2015

Does the RIA process ensure participation, transparency and quality evaluation?

10
 9

RIA analyses consistently involve stakeholders by means of consultation or collaboration, results are transparently communicated to the public and assessments are effectively evaluated by an independent body on a regular basis.
 8
 7
 6


The RIA process displays deficiencies with regard to one of the three objectives.
 5
 4
 3


The RIA process displays deficiencies with regard to two of the three objectives.
 2
 1

RIA analyses do not exist or the RIA process fails to achieve any of the three objectives of process quality.
Quality of RIA Process
4
RIA analyses in Spain are quite new (see “RIA Application”), and their use to date has largely been focused on administrative simplification and better-regulation programs. The gradual introduction of RIAs since 2009 has resulted in a general template (reinforced since 2016 by the law on the common administrative procedure), which is to be applied across content areas. This emphasizes that draft legislation must address economic and budgetary considerations as well as any other relevant aspects of impact such as environmental impact, gender-equality concerns, and any possible effects on disabled people.

This process has not been very successful in eliciting participation by stakeholders (through consultation or collaboration, transparent communication of results to the public, or the effective and regular evaluation of assessments by an independent body). In some instances, RIA procedures have been efficiently used; in others, it seems to have been merely a formal requirement fulfilled by the department preparing the bill. Since 2017, the Institute for the Evaluation of Public Policies, a part of the Ministry of Territorial Policy and Civil Service, has been in charge of evaluating the public polices produced by ministries and at the various administrative levels. However, reinforcing the degree to which this institute cooperates with other agencies (e.g., the Office for the Execution of Administrative Reform, or the Independent Fiscal Accountability Authority) would increase the impact of its short-term and long-term evaluations.

Citations:
Círculo de Empresarios (2018), La calidad de las instituciones en España. https://circulodeempresarios.org/app/uploads/2018/04/Calidad-insti-CdE-WEB.pdf

Does the government conduct effective sustainability checks within the framework of RIA?

10
 9

Sustainability checks are an integral part of every RIA; they draw on an exhaustive set of indicators (including social, economic, and environmental aspects of sustainability) and track impacts from the short- to long-term.
 8
 7
 6


Sustainability checks lack one of the three criteria.
 5
 4
 3


Sustainability checks lack two of the three criteria.
 2
 1

Sustainability checks do not exist or lack all three criteria.
Sustainability Check
4
RIA analyses were only timidly introduced in Spain in 2009, and the process as implemented up to this point has not included systematic sustainability checks using an exhaustive set of indicators considering the short- to long-term effects of regulatory change. However, the legal reform of the general administrative procedure in 2015 included new sustainability-related improvements. Under the terms of Law 39/2015, the executive has the centralized task of reviewing whether new bills prepared by the rest of ministries and agencies fulfill various criteria from a procedural point of view. Articles 129 and 130 of the law mandate a systematic process ensuring the substantive congruence of all policy proposals being prepared. This would basically ensure that sufficient planning and effective RIA had been carried out by the sectoral ministry proposing the new legislation, and that an evaluation procedure was included. Royal Decree 931/2017, which came into force in December 2017, aims to improve regulatory impact analyses concentrating on the economic, social and environmental consequences of new legislation. Despite these recent improvements, Spain lacks a formal sustainability strategy other than the National Reform Plan and the Stability Program associated with European economic-governance obligations.

Citations:
Real Decreto 931/2017.

To what extent do government ministries regularly evaluate the effectiveness and/or efficiency of public policies and use results of evaluations for the revision of existing policies or development of new policies?

10
 9

Ex post evaluations are carried out for all significant policies and are generally used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 8
 7
 6


Ex post evaluations are carried out for most significant policies and are used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 5
 4
 3


Ex post evaluations are rarely carried out for significant policies and are rarely used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 2
 1

Ex post evaluations are generally not carried out and do not play any relevant role for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
Quality of Ex Post Evaluation
6
The State Agency for Evaluation of Public Policies and the Quality of Services was created in 2006 in order to promote a culture of evaluation and to improve the quality of services in the public administration. In fact, evaluations vary substantially according to the public policy. In 2017, the Agency was downgraded, becoming the Institute for the Evaluation of Public Policies which is today attached to the Ministry of Territorial Policy and Civil Service. In theory, this Institute is in responsible for the ex post evaluation of all public policies. However, during the period under review, no data regarding the activities of the Institute was available. The 2015 law on the common administrative procedure includes a provision regarding ex post evaluation, making it compulsory to evaluate the application of rules and norms in order to ascertain whether they have met the objectives pursued, and whether costs have been justified. Most autonomous regions have developed additional, systematic ex-post evaluation programs for their public policies. However, the practical impact of these measures has to date been limited.
The Independent Authority for Fiscal Responsibility (AIReF), which was created in 2014, is responsible for the evaluation of public spending and the efficiency of public policies. The AIReF analyses key expenditure and investment items such as education, healthcare and public works. The reports are not binding, but if the administration chooses not to follow the recommendations, it must justify this decision. In 2018, the AIReF’s independence was reinforced by giving it greater access to information and improving its budget-drafting process and the way in which it monitors recommendations. It has undertaken several spending reviews and policy evaluations.

Citations:
Ley 39/2015. Royal Decree 105/2018

Societal Consultation

#20

Does the government consult with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner?

10
 9

The government always consults with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner.
 8
 7
 6


The government in most cases consults with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner.
 5
 4
 3


The government does consult with societal actors, but mostly in an unfair and clientelistic manner.
 2
 1

The government rarely consults with any societal actors.
Public Consultation
6
An Economic and Social Council (ESC) made up of employers’ organizations, trade unions and other societal representatives is provided for in the constitution, while other government advisory bodies are provided for by additional specific policies. The ESC and the other bodies issue opinions on draft legislation, although there is no general common institutionalized procedure for consultation nor in many cases is there an obligation to engage in it. The extent and success of this social dialogue with regard to the preparation of policy initiatives depends on the particular sector and the personality of the relevant minister.

Following the economic recovery and the end of the absolute majority government’s term after 2015, the right-wing PP government improved communication with the two big trade unions (UGT and CCOO) and the main business association (CEOE). This enabled it to introduce reforms on wages, for example. Since 2017, the frequency of public consultation for legislative projects has increased, with the introduction of so-called annual normative plans helping in this regard. While the weak PSOE minority government increased contacts with societal actors in 2018 (many public and private actors participated in the elaboration of the Action Plan for the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda, which was approved in July), it has also made greater use of decree-law powers.

Citations:
Real Decreto 286/2017

http://www.ces.es/en/web/guest

Policy Communication

#10

To what extent does the government achieve coherent communication?

10
 9

Ministries are highly successful in aligning their communication with government strategy.
 8
 7
 6


Ministries most of the time are highly successful in aligning their communication with government strategy.
 5
 4
 3


Ministries occasionally issue public statements that contradict the public communication of other ministries or the government strategy.
 2
 1

Strategic communication planning does not exist; individual ministry statements regularly contradict each other. Messages are often not factually consistent with the government’s strategy.
Coherent Communication
7
A press office in the prime minister’s entourage (Secretaría de Estado de Comunicación) and the government’s spokesperson try to conduct coherent communication planning. Ministries tend to align their statements and press releases with government strategy. The conservative PP government (in office through May 2018) did not have a well-developed communications strategy. The management of the Catalan conflict was perhaps the best example of this problem, with unconvincing and contradictory statements released both internally and abroad. The PSOE government launched a more thoughtful political communications strategy after June, very much oriented towards the next elections. However, minor scandals linked to the previous behavior of the new ministers appointed, some policy reversals and interministerial disagreements (for example between the Defense and Foreign Affairs ministries regarding arms sales to Saudi Arabia) showed the limits of this strategy.

Citations:
September 2018, Politico, Sánchez’s 100 days of commotion, https://www.politico.eu/article/pedro-sanchez-spain-100-days-of-commotion/

Implementation

#19

To what extent can the government achieve its own policy objectives?

10
 9

The government can largely implement its own policy objectives.
 8
 7
 6


The government is partly successful in implementing its policy objectives or can implement some of its policy objectives.
 5
 4
 3


The government partly fails to implement its objectives or fails to implement several policy objectives.
 2
 1

The government largely fails to implement its policy objectives.
Government Effectiveness
6
The Spanish government has never instituted a system of benchmarks to evaluate its own performance. However, thanks to its constitutional powers and single-party nature, it has traditionally been successful in the implementation of major policy objectives. Until 2015, two obstacles existed: first, the weakness of the coordination mechanisms with the 17 autonomous regions that are responsible for most policy areas, and second, the high degree of ministerial fragmentation. In recent years, and particularly during the period under review, the governing party’s parliamentary weakness has become a much greater obstacle, rendering the government incapable of implementing some of its strategic objectives, especially with regard to securing approval of the annual budget.

Nevertheless, a major success with regard to effective implementation was achieved during the period under review, associated with the Catalan crisis. In October 2017, article 155 of the constitution was activated (a kind of federal coercion clause); this produced snap regional elections imposed by the central government, and effectively led to direct central-government rule in Catalonia until May 2018.

Citations:
October 2017, The Guardian: Spain dissolves Catalan parliament,
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/27/-pm-m ariano-rajoy-asks-senate-powers-dis miss-catalonia-president
May 2018, The Guardian: Catalonia’s parliament elects hardline secessionist
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/14/catalonia-parliament-elects-hardline-nationalist-as-president

To what extent does the organization of government provide mechanisms to ensure that ministers implement the government’s program?

10
 9

The organization of government successfully provides strong mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 8
 7
 6


The organization of government provides some mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 5
 4
 3


The organization of government provides weak mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 2
 1

The organization of government does not provide any mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
Ministerial Compliance
9
All prime ministers since the restoration of democracy in 1977 have presided over single-party governments, even after 2015, when absolute majorities became impossible to attain. Thus, all ministries are chaired by members or persons close to the same party. The prime minister (who is the leader of the governing party) is free to reorganize government structures and dismiss ministers he does not consider able or willing to implement the government’s program.

The constitution (which stipulates that parliamentary confidence rests personally with the prime minister and his comprehensive government program), internal party discipline and the organization of the executive thus all provide strong incentives for all ministers to implement the overall government program rather than seeking to realize the sectoral interests of their individual departments. However, the fact that the government’s hierarchical organizational devices provide these potentially strong incentives does not necessarily ensure that ministers always subordinate their sectoral self-interest to the general interests of the government. They actually enjoy some degree of political autonomy, even reinforced with the new socialist government.

How effectively does the government office/prime minister’s office monitor line ministry activities with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The GO / PMO effectively monitors the implementation activities of all line ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO monitors the implementation activities of most line ministries.
 5
 4
 3


The GO / PMO monitors the implementation activities of some line ministries.
 2
 1

The GO / PMO does not monitor the implementation activities of line ministries.
Monitoring Ministries
7
The activities of all line ministries are monitored by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the Government Office (GO), and ultimately the Council of Ministers. The PMO oversees the flow of political and sectoral information and keeps the prime minister abreast of the activities of all line ministries. The GO, headed by the powerful deputy prime minister, monitors the activities of line ministries through the weekly meetings which prepare the way for Council of Ministers meetings. The capacity of the GO to monitor ministers improved due to new legislation in 2015 that introduced a new system for systematically assessing policy implementation, in the form of a periodic evaluation report that is prepared in close consultation with line ministries. Nevertheless, this monitoring cannot guarantee that no sectoral ministry will ever prioritize vertical over horizontal interests. The organizational resources of these central offices are limited, and these bodies rarely engage in direct coordination of ministerial departments. Only the prime minister or his deputy are entitled to play this role.

Citations:
Funciones del Ministerio de la Presidencia
http://www.mpr.gob.es/mpr/funciones/Paginas/funciones.aspx

Real Decreto 595/2018

How effectively do federal and subnational ministries monitor the activities of bureaucracies/executive agencies with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The ministries effectively monitor the implementation activities of all bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 8
 7
 6


The ministries monitor the implementation activities of most bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 5
 4
 3


The ministries monitor the implementation activities of some bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 2
 1

The ministries do not monitor the implementation activities of bureaucracies/executive agencies.
Monitoring Agencies|Bureaucracies
7
Spain’s ministries have the capacity to monitor the activities of the administrative bureaucracy and executive agencies with regard to implementation. One of the main ingredients of the administrative-reform process launched in 2012 as a consequence of the crisis consisted in the reinforcement of central control over these public bodies, and in some cases entailed the absorption of the smallest agencies by the ministry in charge of their task area.

This reorganization included the first comprehensive register of all existing agencies or any other semi-autonomous bureaucracy in Spain, and resulted in several mergers. Law 40/2015 established an integrated framework for evaluation, monitoring and the independent audit of all agencies. Thus, the ministries can now monitor the activities of all executive agencies and force them if necessary to act in accordance with the government’s program. However, it is also true that thanks to bureaucratic drift and/or flexibility in their functioning, some of these semi-autonomous public bodies have been able to elude this control. Ministers have particular difficulties in effectively monitoring the largest ones.

Citations:
Círculo de Empresarios (2018), La calidad de las instituciones en España. https://circulodeempresarios.org/app/uploads/2018/04/Calidad-insti-CdE-WEB.pdf

To what extent does the central government ensure that tasks delegated to subnational self-governments are adequately funded?

10
 9

The central government enables subnational self-governments to fulfill all their delegated tasks by funding these tasks sufficiently and/or by providing adequate revenue-raising powers.
 8
 7
 6


The central government enables subnational governments to fulfill most of their delegated tasks by funding these tasks sufficiently and/or by providing adequate revenue-raising powers.
 5
 4
 3


The central government sometimes and deliberately shifts unfunded mandates to subnational governments.
 2
 1

The central government often and deliberately shifts unfunded mandates to subnational self-governments.
Task Funding
6
Spain has a very decentralized political and administrative structure, with 17 autonomous regions controlling over a third of public spending, including services such as health care and education. The system has also been occasionally associated with deficiencies in the process by which tasks are delegated to regions without adequate funding sources. In the context of the austerity policies that have characterized Spain until recently, public-spending cuts and reinforced central control of the regional accounts have led to criticism of the central government for deliberately shifting unfunded mandates to the regions. As a result, some regions have been incapable of adequately fulfilling their delegated tasks without help. The debate over the criteria through which solidarity funding for regions and territories is allocated continues to be intense, with richer regions seeking a profound revision of the general funding system. In fact, Catalonia’s bid for independence was in part fueled by widespread social unrest related to the wealthy region’s limited fiscal capacities. In 2012, the central government introduced the Fund for Regional Liquidity, providing inexpensive liquidity to the regions. This program remained in force in 2018. Thanks to this program, most of Spain’s public debt belongs to the central administration, although some regions are now independently accessing the financial markets once again. Although the new socialist government announced plans for a long-awaited reform of the territorial financing model in 2018, the reform had to be postponed.

Citations:
September 2018, El Confidencial, Las comunidades mejor financiadas dan un giro al debate, https://www.elconfidencial.com/economia/2018-09-11/comunidades-mejor-financiadas-piden-dinero_1614033/

To what extent does central government ensure that subnational self-governments may use their constitutional scope of discretion with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The central government enables subnational self-governments to make full use of their constitutional scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 8
 7
 6


Central government policies inadvertently limit the subnational self-governments’ scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 5
 4
 3


The central government formally respects the constitutional autonomy of subnational self-governments, but de facto narrows their scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 2
 1

The central government deliberately precludes subnational self-governments from making use of their constitutionally provided implementation autonomy.
Constitutional Discretion
5
Since 2012, legislation on budgetary stability and financial sustainability has imposed austerity conditions and debt targets on all public administrative bodies. With this legislation, the central government has – despite formally respecting the autonomous communities’ constitutional autonomy – de facto narrowed the scope of their spending autonomy. One of the effects of the law has been to paralyze policy initiatives, especially at the municipal and regional levels. Some regions (particularly Catalonia) have tried to protect themselves from what they deem excessive central control, but the radicalization of this strategy in the form of Catalonia’s bid for secession prompted the imposition of temporary direct rule by the central government (from October 2017 to May 2018).

Citations:
November 2017, El País: “Montoro interviene las cuentas de Madrid”
https://elpais.com/ccaa/201 7/11/07/madrid/1510051221_630892.ht ml

February 2018, La Vanguardia, Se cumplen cien días de la aplicación del artículo 155, https://www.lavanguardia.com/politica/20180204/44518036224/se-cumplen-cien-dias-de-la-aplicacion-del-articulo-155.html

To what extent does central government ensure that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services?

10
 9

Central government effectively ensures that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
 8
 7
 6


Central government largely ensures that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
 5
 4
 3


Central government ensures that subnational self-governments realize national minimum standards of public services.
 2
 1

Central government does not ensure that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
National Standards
6
The central government has in principle always been committed to ensuring uniform national standards for public services, but this has never been completely effective. In some cases, regional governments design and implement their own public policies without following clearly defined national standards. As a result, there may be some variation in the quality of public services offered by Spain’s regions. In general, minimum standards are set by basic national legislation, but are not subsequently enforced. The formal method for monitoring the provision of services by the regions through administrative supervision (the so-called High Inspectorate) has not been particularly effective. However, new regulations on financial sustainability within public administration and local governments have strengthened the tools through which the central government can ensure that regional and local governments realize national minimum standards. One example was the health care reform, which focused on a services portfolio of the National Health System. The central government tried to ensure that the decentralized provision of public health services comply with standards set on the national level. Overall, inequalities between regions have not increased, but neither have they diminished.
In 2018, the Spanish Constitutional Court reaffirmed the powers of the central government to establish curriculum standards for students in primary and secondary education.

Citations:
Kölling; Rambler, (2018), Spain, in: Wong, Knüpling, Kölling, Chebenova (ed.), Federalism and Education: Ongoing Challenges and Policy Strategies in Ten Countries, 2018, Information Age Publishing, Charlotte.

To what extent is government enforcing regulations in an effective and unbiased way, also against vested interests?

10
 9

Government agencies enforce regulations effectively and without bias.
 8
 7
 6


Government agencies, for the most part, enforce regulations effectively and without bias.
 5
 4
 3


Government agencies enforce regulations, but ineffectively and with bias.
 2
 1

Government agencies enforce regulations ineffectively, inconsistently and with bias.
Regulatory Enforcement
7
In recent years, the Spanish government has faced strong pressure from powerful economic groups in the banking, energy and telecommunications sectors, as well as several private groups such as pensioners and taxi drivers. Until 2015, with an absolute majority in parliament, the government was able to push unpopular legislative acts through parliament even against the opposition of vested interests. Nevertheless, the minority governments in power in 2016 through 2018 were forced to seek not only the support of other political parties, but also a broader societal consensus. This has limited the ability to push through regulations against strong opposition from powerful interest groups.

Adaptability

#5

To what extent does the government respond to international and supranational developments by adapting domestic government structures?

10
 9

The government has appropriately and effectively adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 8
 7
 6


In many cases, the government has adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government has adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 2
 1

The government has not adapted domestic government structures, no matter how beneficial adaptation might be.
Domestic Adaptability
8
The government has largely adapted its domestic structures to agreements made at international and supranational level, although this adaptation has not always been implemented effectively. The government’s coordination with and adaptation to the European Union is mainly the task of the Secretariat of State for the European Union and the Spanish Permanent Representation in Brussels (both units within the Foreign Ministry). The Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry for Economy, and the Ministry for Finance also have important responsibilities in terms of coordinating cooperation between ministries on EU matters and structural reforms connected to European economic governance. More generally, all line ministries have to some extent Europeanized their organizations, although most ministries lack units dealing specifically with the EU, and interministerial coordination is weak. Since the beginning of the 1980s, cooperation between the central government and the autonomous regions on EU affairs have been managed by the so-called Conference on Matters Related to the EU. Finally, the creation of a High Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda, with interministerial responsibilities, was the most important development during 2018 with regard to adapting domestic structures to meet the objectives decided at the international level – in this case, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Citations:
Real Decreto 595/2018

To what extent is the government able to collaborate effectively with international efforts to foster global public goods?

10
 9

The government can take a leading role in shaping and implementing collective efforts to provide global public goods. It is able to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
 8
 7
 6


The government is largely able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Existing processes enabling the government to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress are, for the most part, effective.
 5
 4
 3


The government is partially able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Processes designed to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress show deficiencies.
 2
 1

The government does not have sufficient institutional capacities to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. It does not have effective processes to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
International Coordination
8
The year 2018 was an important one with regard to Spain’s efforts to contribute actively to international efforts to foster the provision of global public goods. The country continued to participate in these efforts as one of the leading EU member states (with the new Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez acting proactively at the European Council) and as a permanent guest at the G-20 summits; however, Spain also began its mandate as a member of the UN’s Human Rights Council for the 2018 – 2020 period. The national government has contributed to international forums and actions responding to challenges including climate change (through the COP), energy supply, financial stability, illegal migration (as a signatory to the Global Compact and several bilateral agreements), terrorism, and peacekeeping (troops deployed in UN, NATO and EU missions). In June 2018, a High Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda, linked to the prime minister, was created to coordinate line ministries on issues related to fulfilling the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. During the period under review, Prime Minister Sanchez tried to find a common European answer to dealing with the migration challenge, although Spain had previously played only a very small role in addressing the post-2015 refugee crisis. However, Spanish governments can work harder to shape global governance and to ensure that global issues have been systematically assessed and incorporated into the formulation, coordination and monitoring of internal policies.

Citations:
October 2017, Agencia EFE: “Spain gets seat on UN Human Rights Council”
https://www.efe.com/efe/english/w orld/spain-gets-seat-on-un-human-ri ghts-council/50000262-3409912

Council on foreign relations, A Conversation with Pedro Sánchez - https://www.cfr.org/event/conversation-pedro-sanchez

Organizational Reform

#22

To what extent do actors within the government monitor whether institutional arrangements of governing are appropriate?

10
 9

The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly and effectively.
 8
 7
 6


The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly.
 5
 4
 3


The institutional arrangements of governing are selectively and sporadically monitored.
 2
 1

There is no monitoring.
Self-monitoring
5
The prime minister has the power (both constitutionally and politically) to reformulate the institutional organization of the government. Without any legal constraint, he personally decides on the structure of portfolios and other governing arrangements every time he appoints new ministers. Following his arrival in office in June 2018, Prime Minister Sanchez introduced several changes with regard to ministries’ names and jurisdictions, without a prior impact assessment. As yet, no central actor performs a self-monitoring function. However, laws 19/2013 on transparency, access to public information and good governance, and 39/2015 on general administrative procedure state that the Government Office must engage in planning, evaluation, and comprehensive monitoring of general legislation and, where appropriate, must promote revision and simplification.

Citations:
Ley 39/2015

To what extent does the government improve its strategic capacity by changing the institutional arrangements of governing?

10
 9

The government improves its strategic capacity considerably by changing its institutional arrangements.
 8
 7
 6


The government improves its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
 5
 4
 3


The government does not improve its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
 2
 1

The government loses strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
Institutional Reform
6
During the period under review, which coincided with a no-confidence vote in May 2018 and the formation of a new government, several important changes were introduced with regard to policy portfolios and the associated ministries. This included the creation of several new departments (including the Ministry for Territorial Policy and Civil Service), and changes in the names and responsibilities of others. As of the time of writing, the government was two-thirds female – the highest such proportion in the country’s history. This includes a Ministry of Equality chaired by the deputy prime minister. Moreover, in line with government priorities in foreign policy and poverty reduction, the Prime Minister’s Office was reinforced in 2018 with several new policy units (the High Commissioner for Combating Child Poverty and the High Commissioner for the Agenda 2030).

However, the internal central-government structure and the procedures of governing have remained almost unchanged for many years. A more substantial and comprehensive improvement could have been achieved through the interministerial administrative-reform process that took place from 2012 to 2015, but the scope of this process was somewhat limited. Despite being praised by the OECD, it paid limited attention to the government’s strategic capacity to make and implement political decisions.

Citations:
June 2018, BBC, Spain’s king swears in Sanchez cabinet with majority of women
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-44382051
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