Distribution of legal competences

In the Spanish Constitution (SC) the State territory is organized in municipalities, provinces and autonomous communities. All these entities have the right to autonomy to manage their own interests (art. 137).

In the context of an Autonomic State (art. 2 SC), and according to the principles of anterior autonomy and territorial decentralisation, there is a competence rank, considering the ones retained by the Sate and the ones belonging to Autonomous Communities (AC). Competences can be legislative (power to proclaim laws), regulatory (power to proclaim regulations) and executive (to fulfil and enforce the laws). Depending on how competences are shared by the State and Autonomous Communities, those could be:

  • Exclusive competences: when only one entity has competence in the subject.
  • Shared competences: when the different rights belonging to a competence are distributed among the entities. For example, the State proclaims the basic law on a given matter and the AC develop, execute and enforce this law.
  • Concurrent competences: when the two entities have the same rights on the matter.

The SC lists in art. 148 the matters whose competence can be assumed by AC. In art. 149 it lists the matters which are exclusive competence of the State. It also defines different degrees in competence. Art. 150 gives the option of transferring state competences through frame laws and transfer laws.

In addition, water issues affect a lot of constitutional matters such as, environment, fishing, agriculture, energy, health, sport and leisure, civil defence, etc, and every territorial entity have some degree of competence in all these matters.

General Principles of Public Administration on water issues

  • The Hydraulic Public Property belongs to the State
  • Respect for the unity of the Hydrographical Basin , hydraulic systems and hydrological cycle
  • Integral approach, water economy, principle of deconcentration, decentralization, co-ordination, efficiency and user participation
  • Compatibility of public water policies with regional planning, preservation, protection and restoration of environment
  • Indivisibility of Hydrographical Basins for administration purposes
  • Classification of Hydrographical Basins in two types for competence distribution purposes:
    • Inter-community Basins: their territory includes the whole or part of territory from several communities.
    • Intra-community Basins: their territory includes only the whole or part of one community

More information (Spanish)