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Transparency and Good Governance Law approved in Catalonia

The Catalan Parliament approved on Thursday the Law on Transparency, Information Access and Good Governance with 81% in support and 2% in opposition. This bill comes a few months after the Catalan Government was graded 100 points out of 100 by Transparency International Spain for the information it makes available to citizens through its website about public contracts, tenders, subsidies and elected officials. However, these measures also come after years of corruption scandals, which have not only occurred across Spain, but also in Catalonia. The main parties have backed the new law, while two other parties abstained and one voted against the bill because they said they did not trust the governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU. With the new law, access to information will become a citizen’s right, which can only be limited when it affects people’s intimacy or a few other exceptions, including public security. 

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18 December 2014 09:44 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- The Catalan Parliament approved on Thursday the Law on Transparency, Information Access and Good Governance with 81% in support and 2% in opposition. The law’s objective is “to recover the citizens’ lost confidence” by making public bodies more transparent regarding their decision-making processes and the spending of public money. This bill comes a few months after the Catalan Government was graded 100 points out of 100 by Transparency International Spain for the information it makes available to citizens through its website about public contracts, tenders, subsidies and elected officials. However, these measures also come after years of corruption scandals, which have not only occurred across Spain, but also in Catalonia. The main parties have backed the new law, while two other parties abstained and one voted against the bill because they said they did not trust the governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU. With the new law, the access to information will become a citizen’s right, which can only be limited when it affects people’s intimacy or a few other exceptions, including public security, penal processes and strict confidentiality reasons. Citizens will be able to know the salary of all public employees, including bonuses and spending allowances, while respecting the Data Protection Law. Thanks to the new law, information concerning subsidies, grants, tenders, public contracts, staff hiring processes, organisational structures, financial decisions, public wealth, statistical information, etc. should all be accessible to any citizen looking for it or specifically requesting it. A web portal centralising all the information will be created and sanctions will also be included.


The CiU – which runs the Catalan Government; the left-wing Catalan independence party ERC; the Catalan Socialist Party PSC; and the conservative People’s Party (PP) – which runs the Spanish Government – have all voted for the new law. The Catalan green socialist and post-communist coalition ICV-EUiA and the Spanish nationalist and populist party Ciutadans (C’s) abstained. Finally, the alternative left and radical independence party CUP have voted against the new bill. However, many of them acknowledged that this law “comes late”. Despite this fact, they hoped it will be a positive tool to rebuild citizen trust in the political system and to reduce corruption.

The CUP MP, David Fernández, highlighted that the Spanish Parliament approved a law on transparency one year ago and that Catalonia has just done it now. However, Sweden started to legislate about this issue 250 years ago, stated Fernández. Those abstaining and opposing the new Law on Transparency, Information Access and Good Governance argued that they do not trust the CiU to design it and implement it, considering the corruption scandals that have affected the two parties which have formed the governing coalition during the last few years: the Liberal CDC and the Christian-Democrat UDC.

The new law affects the Catalan Government, as well as town halls and supra-municipal bodies throughout Catalonia. It also targets public companies, private companies receiving public money or holding public contracts, universities, lobbies, political parties, employers’ associations and trade unions. The lobbies operating in Catalonia will have to sign in to a specific and newly-created register. In addition, the new law also provides measures for the Catalan Court of Auditors, the Catalan Ombudsman and the Anti-Fraud Office of Catalonia. The Catalan Parliament is not specifically included, but it announced it will adapt its regulations to the new law within the next 6 months.

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  • The Catalan Parliament's plenary, which voted for the Transparency Law and rejected amendments to the Catalan Government's budget proposal for 2015 (by A. Moldes)

  • The Catalan Parliament's plenary, which voted for the Transparency Law and rejected amendments to the Catalan Government's budget proposal for 2015 (by A. Moldes)