3.4.6 Other relevant issues
The 23/1998 Act regulates the legal regime of Spanish policy on international cooperation for development. Its objectives include the promotion of cultural relations with developing countries. In that Act, culture appears as a priority sector of cooperation, especially with regard to the defence of cultural identity and to foster cultural promotion and free access to cultural facilities and services.
Much of the activity for the development of culture is channelled through the Spanish Agency for International Co-operation and Development (AECID), created in 1988 to manage Spanish policy on international cooperation and development. The AECID is an autonomous body affiliated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation through the State Secretariat for International Cooperation with Iberoamerica. The agency is responsible for the design, execution and management of projects and programmes of cooperation for development, either directly, using its own resources, or via cooperation with other domestic or international bodies and non-governmental development organisations. To perform its work, the AECID has a large external structure, with 33 Technical Cooperation Offices, 12 Cultural Centres, 7 Associated Centres, and 4 Training Centres in countries where the agency carries out its main cooperation projects. Among the agency's cooperation programmes of particular interest are the Heritage Programme for Development and the "Acerca" Programme – especially addressed to provide qualifications for the development of the cultural sector. The Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation 2005-2008 presented a major breakthrough in the treatment of culture as a dimension of development cooperation. This was evidenced by the desire for greater specificity and concreteness, in line with a new context on current trends of relationships among culture and development and a conceptual progress of organisms such as UNDP and UNESCO. In this framework, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation introduced the first Strategy for Culture and Development of Spanish Cooperation. The following Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation 2009-2012 reflected the spirit of the previous Plan, which contributed decisively to strengthening cooperation as a state policy. The Master Plan reinforced the high stakes of the previous cycle, such as culture and development, in order to promote opportunities and the tangible and intangible cultural capacities of individuals and communities as essential components of sustainable human development. In December 2012, the government approved the new Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation 2013-2016. Government priorities for Spanish cooperation for this period included: the promotion of respect for cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and freedom of expression and creation, and the effective participation of all individuals in cultural life. The Plan is part of a wider policy of rationing of public expenditure that has led to the closure of several offices and centres abroad, and that seeks to achieve a greater coherence and quality of management of the official development assistance. The Strategic Plan of the AECID 2014-2017 sets the strategic objective of improving the effectiveness and coordination of foreign cultural action and cultural and scientific cooperation in international relations.
Spain has a long tradition of emigration. On 1 January 2014, the number of Spanish nationals who lived abroad permanently was 2058048, according to the Register of Spaniards residing abroad conducted by the National Institute of Statistics (6.6% more than in 2013). To cater for the needs of this group, Spain has a network of consular offices dependent on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, with almost 200 Consular Offices and Consular Sections at Embassies, and around 500 Honorary Consulates and Vice-consulates. In 2006, the government approved the Statute for Spanish citizens abroad (Act 40/2006, 14 December 2006) which aims to guarantee the free exercise of constitutional rights and duties among Spanish nationals living in foreign countries, with equal status to Spanish residents, and to strengthen social, cultural, economic and linguistic ties with Spain and with emigrants' countries and communities of residence. At a regional level, the Galician government, one of the regions with the highest rate of emigration, launched in 2002, together with companies and entities, the Galicia Emigration Foundation. The entity's, that closed at the end of 2010 as a result of the economic crisis, had as a main objective to improve the quality of life of Galician emigrants, returning emigrants and immigrants residing in Galicia. To that end, it encouraged the participation of the Galician society in social, cultural, and economic actions. In cultural matters, its main aim was the enhancement of Galician cultural heritage abroad.