Spain/ 5.1 General legislation  

5.1.2 Division of jurisdiction

The 1978 Constitution adopted a decentralised model of national administration which is neither regional nor federal, but a mixture of the two. It outlines the "State of the Autonomies", and establishes seventeen Autonomous Communities (plus two cities having autonomous status, Ceuta and Melilla) as intermediate territorial political entities on which the Constitution confers ample power of self-government.

Culture is depicted as a major defining element having a quasi-structural importance in the territorial division of the state. The Autonomous Communities are defined as adjacent provinces sharing "common historic, cultural and economic characteristics" (Article143). According to this definition, culture makes up the nucleus of the powers of the autonomous governments. However, the state "shall consider the promotion of culture a duty and an essential function and shall facilitate cultural communication between the Autonomous Communities, in collaboration with them" (Article149.2). Local authorities are regarded as territorial entities governed by the principle of common goals (Article137); their interests, too, are deemed to have a "cultural" dimension.

The allocation of roles and responsibilities for culture among the different territorial public authorities is based on a singular principle, in the sense that it contains rules differing from those applied in other constitutional areas. The main difference resides in that the fulfilment of obligations can be made on a concurrent, parallel or, as it has also been called, "twinned" basis. Instead of the incluius unius, exclusius alterius principle that normally governs the allocation of administrative responsibilities, in this case, the fact that one authority is given a task by no means prevents another authority, at a different level, from taking upon itself precisely the same task. The Constitutional Court made this abundantly clear in a ruling (STC 49) in 1984:"...any consideration of culture leads us to the conclusion that it falls within the competence of both central and regional governments and possibly at other levels; wherever a community exists, it has a culture over which representative public authorities may exercise their authority beyond purely technical administrative matters to enter the realm of what may broadly be described as fostering culture".

This so-called "concurrent" principle, as far as fostering culture is concerned, does not prevent the existence of demarcation lines with respect to specific cultural institutions. The Constitution defines which areas are the exclusive terrain of the central government (Article149.1): the defence of Spanish cultural, artistic and architectural heritage against export or wanton removal; state-owned museums, archives and libraries, whether or not their administration is delegated to the Autonomous Communities; legislation on intellectual property and copyright; the principles to be applied by the press, radio and television and, in general, all means of communication owned by public authorities not resulting from initiatives taken by the regional communities in the exercise of their powers. Article148 establishes which cultural responsibilities the regions may assume: handicrafts, museums, libraries, archives, conservatories for music of special interest to the region and architectural heritage, also of special interest to the community.

In July 2011, the Council of Ministers approved a Royal Decree (1151/2011) that recognises the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture for bullfighting activities, which still remained under the responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior. In response to demand from supporters of bullfighting, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport is now responsible for the promotion and encouragement of this artistic discipline, studies, statistics and analysis on the matter and also for registration of its professionals. However, it should be noted that Autonomous Communities are still responsible for matters related to public shows and the policing activity of bullfighting.

See also  chapter 3.2.


Chapter published: 24-06-2015


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