The territory of Spain is divided up into municipalities, provinces and regions (NUTS II), all of which manage their own interests autonomously.
Under the Spanish Constitution of 1978, all 17 regions have their own approved statutes of autonomy, establishing their powers of self-government and the regional parliaments, which means that the regions have legislative powers. They are currently in the process of revising their statutes.
The regions are subdivided into provinces and municipalities. The Constitution guarantees the autonomy of the municipalities, which have full legal personality. Eight of the Spanish municipalities are represented on the CoR (four full members and four alternates).
Appointing the delegation
Spain has a total of 21 full members and their alternates. The members are actively involved in the delegation's work, and participate regularly in the work of the Committee.
The Spanish Government established the composition of its delegation on the basis of a motion of the Senate, voted on 20 October 1993. The Senate Motion states that 17 of the 21 seats of the Spanish CoR Delegation are for the regions and that the remaining 4 are reserved for local representatives.
Each region proposes a member and an alternate, and four representatives from the local authorities are proposed by the Spanish Federation of Provinces and Municipalities (FEMP - Federación Española de Municipios y Provincias), along with four alternates. Within the local authorities, it was decided that two of Spain 's most populous cities (Madrid and Barcelona) should be represented on the CoR, whilst maintaining the political balance with other, smaller authorities.
The Spanish Government then adopts the overall list, based on the nominations, and sends it to the Council of the European Union, which then formally appoints the Committee members.
All the Spanish members and alternates must be elected or politically accountable to an elected Assembly.
Nominations and resignations of CoR members are sent by the regions and municipalities to the Secretary of State in the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Spanish Permanent Representation, which forwards the nominations to the Council.
Since 9 December 2004, the regions have been able to participate in certain ministerial formations of the Council of the European Union, under an agreement set down by the Spanish State. To this end, one member is able to join the Spanish delegation at meetings of certain Council formations in order to represent the interests of the regions. The member must have the status of councillor or member of the council of an autonomous government. Thus, the regions are represented on the Council formations for employment, social policy, health and consumers, agriculture and fisheries, environment, education, health and culture.
Spain has a total of three seats on the CoR Bureau, which are alternated in accordance with the terms of office of the CoR, maintaining the balance of political parties.
Since the outset, Spanish members have held various high-ranking positions on Committee bodies, including the chairs of commissions and political groups; Pasqual Maragall was president of the CoR from 1996-1998.
Organisation and promoting policy interests
The Spanish Delegation works for the Committee of the Regions at both political and technical levels.
At the political level, prior to the plenary sessions, delegation meetings are held during which members analyse the topics of interest to the delegation and discuss the proceedings of each plenary session. These political meetings are attended by all members, representing the different political parties.
The Spanish Delegation also holds one or two political meetings in Spain during its term of office.
At the technical level, the Spanish Delegation has a strict organisational structure, which rotates every two years with each new term of office and in line with the political alternation of parties. The coordinators of the Spanish Delegation meet periodically in Brussels, prior to the plenary sessions, and keep information constantly flowing to members. Work is coordinated as regards documentation and the submission of amendments. The entire delegation is aware of each member's legislative activities (in plenary sessions and commissions) and the Committee's other political work.
The delegation's work is organised through the 17 regional offices in Brussels, together with the FEMP's International Relations department, and the CoR's other national delegations.
The third aspect of the Spanish Delegation's work is its coordination with the Spanish Permanent Representation, which has set up a specific department for relations with the regions.
The main goal of the Spanish Delegation is to ensure that all its members are aware of the political guidelines and legislative activities of the CoR, so that they can be involved in the decision-making process.
Around three-quarters of EU legislation is currently applied at local or regional level, and the delegation is aware of the increasingly important role being played by the regions, and the need for them to make their voice heard.