What's New

  • 11 February 2016

    Spanish Government Sues Over Disclosure Rulings

    The Spanish government is appealing five instances in which the Transparency Council ordered the disclosure of information under the one-year-old transparency law. The lawsuits are described in an article by Elana G. Sevillano in El Pais and a press release by Access Info Europe. Ironically, the government is seeking to prevent the disclosure of documents […]

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  • 15 July 2015

    Groups Condemn Spanish FOI Implementation Proposal

    A draft regulation to implement Spain’s freedom of information law came under sharp criticism July 13 from Access Info Europe and the 65-member Coalición Pro Acceso. A press release called the proposed regulation “a deliberate attempt by the government to further limit an already weak law and have called for it to be redrafted with urgency.” […]

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News Archive

  • 18 December 2014

    Group Complains About Spanish FOI Website

    Access Info Europe Dec. 17 asked the Spanish Ombudsman to look at various “obstacles” to using Spain’s transparency law. The Madrid-based group objected that “requesters may only send information requests via the Transparency Portal by complicated and time-consuming process, which resulted in no member of Access Info Europe has yet having completed the bureaucratic steps […]

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  • 11 December 2014

    Spanish Law Effective; Problems Affect First Day

    On the first day that Spain’s access to information law (English version) was effective, Dec. 10, users experienced difficulty using the online request system, according to the lobbying group Access Info Europe. The group reported that it could not manage to make a request. Also, requesters from some EU countries were redirected to websites in […]

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  • 14 April 2014

    Access Info Appeals Spanish Ruling in Human Rights Court

    Access Info Europe April 14 appealed to the European Court of Human Rights following an unsuccessful seven-year legal battle to obtain information from Spain’s Ministry of Justice. Spain’s Constitutional Court in 2013 rejected an Access Info appeal based on the freedom of expression provisions of the Constitution (Article 20.1.a) and Article 10 of the European […]

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  • 3 February 2014

    EC Finds Fault With Spain’s New Information Access Law

    The European Commission Feb. 3 praised Spain for passing a law on access to public information, but said it needs improvement. In particular, independent oversight should be added, the report said, and its implementation hastened. The comments came in a wide-ranging report on Spain’s anti-corruption efforts. The law adopted in December “represents a significant step […]

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  • 27 November 2013

    Spanish Senate Approves Transparency Legislation

    The Spanish Senate has approved a Law on Transparency, Access to Information and Good Governance, and passage by Congress is expected Nov. 28. Few changes have been made to the Cabinet’s bill during the legislative, which critics say needed considerable improvement. “The ruling Partido Popular has ignored civil society during the entire process of adopting […]

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  • 12 September 2013

    Spanish Parliament Approves FOI Bill; Senate Next

    The lower house of the Spanish parliament on Sept. 12 approved a Law on Transparency and Good Governance. Approval came on a divided vote after attempts to amend the bill were turned back. Critics called the bill insufficient and opaque. The bill, presented by Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, now goes to the […]

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  • 26 July 2013

    Spanish Committee Approves FOI Amendments in Private

    The Spanish Parliament’s Constitutional Commission on July 25 approved amendments to the transparency law. The nonpublic session was boycotted by left of center parties, including the main opposition Socialist Party and the process came under fire from Access Info Europe. “At time of writing we don’t have a clear picture of exactly which amendments were […]

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  • 29 October 2012

    Group Assessed Costs for Failed Request in Spain

    Access Info Europe has been ordered to pay €3,000 to the Spanish government after unsuccessfully seeking information for certain Ministry of Justice reports. The Spanish Supreme Court ruled that the NGO has not right to ask for such information, requested an Access Info Europe board member in 2007. The request was for Ministry of Justice […]

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  • 3 August 2012

    Spanish Cabinet OKs Access Law, Releases Text

    The Spanish Cabinet on July 27 approved an access bill and several days later released the long-awaited text of the bill (in Spanish). With the action by the Spanish Council of Ministers, the bill on Transparency, Access to Public Information and Good Governance, (proyecto de Ley de Transparencia, Acceso a la Información Pública y Buen Gobierno) […]

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  • 31 May 2012

    Spain Publishes Text of Latest Access Law Proposal

    The Spanish government has posted the latest version (in Spanish) of a proposed transparency law. Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría on May 18 announced that the Cabinet had advanced the draft bill to the next stage of review. (See previous report.)  The text, however, was not immediately published. (See previous […]

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  • 24 May 2012

    Draft Spanish Access Law Remains Inaccessible

    The draft access to information law for Spain has not been released yet, prompting complaints. Changes have been made to the version put out for public comment in March, and observers are eager to see the latest iteration. Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría on May 18 announced that the Cabinet had advanced […]

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  • 18 May 2012

    Spanish Cabinet Forwards Controversial FOI Bill

    The Spanish Cabinet May 18 decided to take another step in the process of developing a freedom of information law. The Cabinet agreed to send the draft legislation to the data protection agency, an independent body, and to the State Council, a body within the government that advises on legal and constitutional matters.  It is expected that the  Cabinet will revisit the […]

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  • 19 March 2011

    Spanish Minister to Decide on Proposing Transparency Law

    Spain’s Ministry of the Presidency on March 17 promised civil society organizations of Spain’s Coalicion Pro Acceso to say, within one month, whether the Spanish government will propose freedom of information legislation.  Minister Ramón Jáuregui told the coalition that the law has not been definitively shelved, despite the press of other business, and that he […]

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  • 22 September 2010

    Group Launches Consultation on Leaked Spanish FOI Bill

    Access Info Europe Sept. 22 revealed a leaked copy of a draft Spanish access to information law and opened a public consultation on the nonpublic draft, which Access Info says “falls below prevailing European standards.” The group has posted a copy of the leaked document on its website.  The government has not officially released its proposal, […]

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  • 27 August 2010

    FOIA Proposal Not Acted on by Spanish Ministers

    An expected meeting of the Spanish Council of Ministers Aug. 20 on a yet-undisclosed proposal for a freedom of information law was not held, prompting calls for more transparency. Access Info wrote a letter to the Spanish government Aug. 25 asking for information about the draft “Law on Transparency and Citizen Access to Public Information.” […]

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  • 19 August 2010

    Spain Drafting New Transparency Law

    The Spanish government is commencing work on a “Transparency and Access to Information Law,” an initiative signaled by a leak to the media. The draft, a copy if which is still unavailable, was quickly criticized as inadequate. The public learned of the proposal Aug. 16, when the Spanish Daily El País reported a few details and said that […]

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  • 20 October 2009

    New Report on Aid Transparency: Not Available! Not Accessible!

    Madrid, Spain — Transparency NGO Access Info Europe released a report on October 20 entitled “Not Available! Not Accessible!” to coincide with the opening of the International Aid Transparency Initiative’s conference of donors and recipient governments in the Hague. The report shows how donor governments are failing to make available the information needed to prevent corruption in […]

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  • 24 February 2009

    US Documents Released Through Freedom of Information Act Requests Introduced as Evidence in Spanish Court Hearing Guatemala Genocide Case

    Related Material from Guatemalan Military Archives Could Be Released Soon Madrid, Spain — Official documents from American and Guatemalan government files were presented as evidence last week in Spains National Courtthe Audiencia Nacionaland turned over to Judge Santiago Pedraz. However, the Guatemalan documentary record remains largely inaccessible, despite rulings by the Guatemalan court and even […]

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LEGAL DOCUMENTS Constitution of Spain (1978) (English version) Access to Information Law (2014) (English version) Ley 30/1992, de 26 de Noviembre, de Régimen Jurídico de las Administraciones Públicas y del Procedimiento Administrativo Común, modified by ley 4/99, de 13 January 1999. Organic Law 15/1999 of 13 December on the Protection of Personal Data   GOVERNMENT Data Protection Agency Ombudsman   ORGANIZATIONS Coalición Pro Acceso   Transparency International Espana   Esculca (Observatory on civil rights and liberties based in Galicia, Spain)   OTHER RESOURCES IDABC, eGovernment Factsheet - Spain - Legal framework   HISTORICAL BACKGROUND Click to view. Text from the Global Survey: Freedom of Information and Access to Government Records Around the World, by David Banisar (updated July 2006)


Article 105 of the 1978 Constitution states:
The law shall regulate […] b) access by the citizens to the administrative archives and registers except where it affects the security and defense of the State, the investigation of crimes, and the privacy of persons.
The 1992 Law on Rules for Public Administration provides for access to government records and documents by Spanish citizens. It also includes rules for access of persons in administrative proceedings. The provisions on access were included to implement the 1990 EU Access to Environmental Information Directive. The documents must be part of a file which has been completed. Agencies must respond in three months. Documents can be withheld if the public interest or a third party's interest would be better served by non-disclosure or if the request would affect the effectiveness of the operations of the public service. Access can also be denied if the documents refer to government actions related to constitutional responsibilities, national defense or national security, investigations, business or industrial secrecy or monetary policy. Access to documents that contain personal information are limited to the persons named in the documents. There are also restrictions for information protected by other laws including classified information, health information, statistics, the civil and central registry, and the law on the historical archives. Denials can be appealed administratively. The Ombudsman can also review cases of failure to follow the law. The Ombudsman recommended in 2002 that agencies make access with 15 days for files for with an interest and 30 days for general access and not overuse the exception on effectiveness of the public administration. Government bodies are also required to maintain a registry of documents and publish acts and decisions. An extensive report published in October 2005 by Sutentia and The Open Society Justice Initiative concludes that nearly 60 percent of the requests filed under the Law 30/1992 for the study were unanswered. From requests filed under the Law 38/1995 on the right of access to information relating to the environment, only 30 percent were answered correctly, while 20 percent were answered late and the remaining 50 percent were never answered. The report recommends that Spain needs to adopt a FOI law according to international standards because Law 30/1992 is not enough to guarantee an adequate right of access. There was considerable controversy about information over the blame for the 11 March 2004 Madrid train bombings. The government selectively declassified documents in March 2004 after it lost the election in an effort to show that ETA was responsible for the bombings. The Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said in December 2004 that his predecessor Jose Maria Aznar had destroyed all computer files relating to the investigation of the bombings when he left office. Zapatero received the €12,000 bill by the computer consulting form for the destruction of the files. Spain signed the Aarhus Convention in June 1998 and ratified it in December 2004. Law 38/1995 on the right of access to information relating to the environment implemented the 1990 EU Access to Environment Directive. It was adopted after the European Commission found that the Law on Public Administration was not adequate and started infringement proceedings against Spain in 1992. In July 2005, the European Commission announced that it was taking legal action against Spain and six other countries for failing to implement the 2003 EU Directive on access to environmental information. The Data Protection Act allows individuals to access and correct records about themselves held by public and private bodies. It is enforced by the Data Protection Agency. 2004 Global Survey Results - Spain



Measuring Openness

Global Right to Information Rating
A country-by-country rating of laws by the Centre for Democracy and Law and Access Info.

Freedom House
The Freedom in the World report.

World Bank
Worldwide Governance Indicators

Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index
Measures perceptions of the degree of corruption.

Reporters Without Borders
The Press Freedom Index.