Madrid, 8 January 2020After ten months of electoral stalemate, Access Info Europe welcomed the creation of a new government in Spain, with a coalition agreement that includes important commitments on transparency, including proposed reform of Spain’s mediocre 2013 Transparency Law, as well as whistleblower protection, regulation of lobbying, abolishing laws that limit freedom of expression, and strengthening anti-corruption measures.

Access Info today urged the new government to make transparency a top priority and to ensure that the promised reforms bring Spain into line with international standards for the fundamental right of access to information, something that the almost 100 CSOs members of the Coalición Pro Acceso have been calling for since 2006.

Access Info also welcomed the commitment to collect salary data from businesses so as to address the gender pay gap, and urged that this be published as open data as part of Sustainable Development Goal 5 indicators. Access Info further noted that currently 70% of requesters of information at the central government level are men (with 25% woman and 5% businesses), something that should be addressed as a priority.

To ensure that the new government’s transparency promises are acted upon, Access Info has recommended that they be included in Spain’s much-delayed fourth Open Government Partnership action plan, which should have been adopted in mid-2019.

Spain’s new coalition government has an opportunity to show that it is serious about transparency by introducing a raft of long-overdue measures to bring it into line with international standards,” said Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe.

We are calling for a specific road-map for action on transparency to be incorporated into the next Open Government Partnership Action Plan,” added Darbishire.

The full list of specific actions recommended to the new coalition government by Access Info can be found on our website (in Spanish) and include:

  • Reform of the Transparency Law (Programme point 2.11.6):
    • Recognise access to information as a fundamental right in line with international standards and Article 20 of the Spanish Constitution on freedom of expression;
    • Abolish the provision that requires requester to identify themselves and hence limits requests to Spanish citizens and residents;
    • Extend the scope of the law to the judicial and legislative powers;
    • Eliminate the highly controversial Article 18 which excludes “auxiliary” information and “communications within or between public bodies” from the scope of the law;
    • Create an obligation to establish information officers in all public bodies and an obligation to assist citizens with requests;
    • Ensure that the Transparency Law prevails over other laws (by removing the provision on deference to any other law that regulates access to information).
  • Amend the draft of the long-overdue Regulation for the Transparency Law before adoption in order to ensure that it in no way limits the right of access to information and that it makes clear that the time limit for answering requests starts being counted from the moment a request is submitted (Programme point 2.11.6).
  • Strengthen the Transparency Council by empowering it to conduct inspections and issue sanctions, by increasing its independence and resources (Programme point 2.11.1).
  • Regulate lobbying by ensuring that, in addition to the promised register of lobbies and publication of agendas, the legal framework for lobbying is in line with the International Lobby Regulation Standards (Programme point 2.11.4).
  • Fully protect whistleblowers as part of the proposed comprehensive anti-corruption law, by going beyond the obligations of European Union Directive 2019/1937 to protect all whistleblowers in all fields of public life (Programme point 2.11.3).
  • Commit to publishing the Company Register and Land Register as part of the programme commitment to open data (Programme point 4.2).
  • Commit to simplifying administrative language as part of the pledge to advance towards a more open administration, thereby making official websites and forms more accessible and understandable for all citizens (Programme point 4.2).
  • Open data for gender equality, specifically ensuring that data is collected and published so as to be able to measure progress on Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality (Programme point 7.1).
  • Strengthen transparency of public procurement as part of the commitment to fight against cartels. Do so by ensuring the real time publication of information throughout the entire public procurement process, with publication of data meeting the Open Contracting Standard. There should also be a strengthening of sanctions against economic operators that engage in anti-competitive practice, and there should be full transparency about the issuance of such sanctions. (Programme point 2.11.8)

For more information, please contact:

Helen Darbishire, Executive Director | Access Info Europe +34 667685319

Paula Domínguez, Communications Officer | Access Info Europe +34 913 656 558

Marta Morcuente, Research Assistant | Access Info Europe +34 913 656 558

Photo: Pedro Sánchez, President of the new Government, and Pablo Iglesias, General Secretary of Podemos, a government partner. Efe