I am sure that those of you who read my column regularly have read my frequent complains on Spanish legislations. Not only the manner in which it is written, convoluted and full of long winded phrases that could be said in a simple and straight forward way, but it seems that the legislator tries his best to enmesh a million of pages of rules and regulations so that it is as difficult as possible to make head or tail of it.
Another issue that makes Spain different is that this country is composed of 17 autonomous regions and each has the capacity to legislate independently of the rest, so we have 17 different regulations for each rule within the construction industry so let’s take for instance a simple regulation which governs the access for handicapped. Apart from the national legislation there are the 17 different Community legislations so for example in Orihuela Costa which is under the Valencia Community has its own regulation different to that of Murcia Region. So a ramp for the disable designed in Orihuela Costa is different to one designed in San Javier. As an architect I have to compare the National legislation with that of the Valencia Community (in this case) and apply whichever is more restrictive, which make you think what could be the possible differences of a person in a wheel chair from Orihuela Costa compared with his counterpart in San Javier.
Well, there is always a person somewhere in the world doing things that you never thought of doing; in this case someone in Spain has been counting page by page the total number which has been legislated last year in Spain and this has been published in an article by the CEOE, The Confederation of Business Organizations in Spain which is a private non-profit organization whose primary purpose is the protection and representation of business before the government and society in general.
The CEOE criticizes the multiplicity of rules, which hinder economic growth and distort the market in Spain. To be updated on all rules, regulations and legal notices, an employee from a company (poor fellow) had to read last year 169,874 pages of the Official Gazette (BOE) and 813,256 pages of official bulletins of the autonomous communities, according to a report highlights by the CEOE, criticizing this legal profusion because, in many cases, is due to duplication, unnecessary or outdated standards requirements.
Last year 706 new rules of different ranks were approved nationwide. Between 1970 and 2014 a total of 40,046 national standards have been adopted in Spain. To region, with more pages published its the official bulletin from Madrid, with 94,159 pages, and the least, the Basque Country, with 5,545. However, the amount collected by CEOE Basque bulletins from the provincial councils were not included, who are autonomous in tax matters among others.
This employer's organization insists that "less regulation is better regulation" and that companies could save in Spain 1,600 million Euros in administrative burdens. For example, in Galicia in 2011 passed a decree requiring the wineries to carry 14 registration books written manually in indelible ink. "If we could do this in computerized form, 1,163,000 Euros could be saved.
Brussels recommended in 2008 to all governments to reduce by 25% administrative burdens. The Executive Zapatero did it in 30% and the Rajoy Government has continued in that line passing the Law of Unity of the Market in 2013. Still, there remains much room for other reductions. The European Commission estimated in 2007 that the cost of administrative burdens in Spain reached 4.6% of GDP (46,000 million Euros).
The OECD produces every five years, an indicator on the regulation on the market of products, which is recognised as an indicator barrier to private initiative arising from all these regulations. In this comparative, Spain has a more restrictive legislation than Italy, UK, Germany or France at least on paper.
As a member of the European Union, to national and regional legislation we have to also add the 22,331 Community directives and regulations, with agriculture, foreign affairs and environmental protection, consumer and health areas on top which adds another burden to this legislation madness.
According to CEOE, the Spanish legislative framework is convoluted and complex, leads to a distorted market and create a high level of administrative burdens for most businesses. All these legislations have a direct impact on economic growth because companies' devote their time and efforts to administrative tasks that involve a cost, in some cases unjustified ". That is why Spain is different!!