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Make a PSI request for re-use in Spain

Our investigation to figure out how to make PSI requests this time focuses on Spain.
This country ranks near the top of the maturity index of Member States according to the Open data Maturity Data Report 2018. It is in fact, one of the five European countries qualified as “trend-setters”. Is all that glitter gold?

Legal framework

The fact that tuderechoasaber.es, a website created to facilitate requests for access to public sector information, was closed in 2015 due to the insisted refusal of the institutions to reply to the requests  seems to cast some shadows on this performance. Let’s explore the legal framework which underlies the access and the reuse of information in Spain.

The Constitution of 1978 introduced for the first time the right of access to information in article 105 paragraph (b):

The law shall make provision for:


The access of citizens to administrative files and records, except to the extent that they may concern the security and defence of the State, the investigation of crimes and the privacy of persons.

However it was not included in the Constitution as a fundamental right as in other countries. This fact had some consequences; it could be regulated not only by provisions coming from the central parliament but also through local legislation produced by the autonomous communities, generating  competition between local and national provisions. The Catalan Law of Transparency (Law 19/2014, of 29 December, on transparency, access to public information and good governance) is the best example.

The first regulation of the right to access to information enshrined in the Constitution is dated 1992. Law 30/1992, of 26 November 1992, on the legal framework of public administrations and common administrative procedure (LRJPAC) implemented in Article 37 the right of citizens to access records and documents held in administrative archives, but the provision was unclear with the result of poor or no practical applicability.

We have to wait until December 2013 to have fully usable and comprehensive transparency law, Act 19/2013 of 9 December on Transparency, Access to Public Information, and Good Governance.

In the meantime other sectoral provisions resulting from EU Directives came into force: such as Act 27/2006, of 18 July 2006 (transposing Directive 2003/4/EC and 2003/35/EC), which regulates the rights to access information, public participation and access to justice in environment matters and Act 37/2007 of 16 November 2007 on the reuse of public sector information (transposing Directive 2003/98/EC), which regulates the private use of documents held by the Administrations and other public sector bodies.

Act 37/2007 was then amended by Act 18/2015 of 8 July 2015 transposing Directive 2013/37/EU.

Let’s focus for a while on Act 19/2013 on transparency. It is applicable to a wide range of public administrations including public Universities, private companies with public stake of more than fifty percent, political parties, trade unions and business associations etc. It foresees the right of access to public information, to which all persons are entitled, and which may be exercised without any need to justify a request. It envisages the creation of a transparency portal as a centralized point where citizens can express the right to access public information; measure that was then concretized with the transparencia.gob.es portal.

The act introduces also the principle of re-use of the public sector information in article 5 and 11.

Chapter II, Active publicity, Article 5 General Principles, paragraph 4 states:

Information subject to transparency obligations shall be published in the corresponding electronic portals or websites, in a manner that is clear, structured and comprehensible for those concerned, and preferably in reusable formats. The appropriate mechanisms shall be established to enable the accessibility, interoperability, quality and reuse of the information published, as well as its identification and location

Article 11 Technical principles, paragraph c) establishes:

Reuse: In accordance with Act 37/2007, of 16 November, on the reuse of public sector information and its implementing regulations, the use of publication formats that permit reuse shall be fostered.

In practice

Since 2015, the “Portal de la Transparencia” is the official reference for exercising the right to access to public information. At this page, there are recommendations to select the most appropriated channel for your request to access to public information whilst at this page you can submit your access request.


What about the reuse requests?
Likely, you can use the same channel mentioning the Act on the reuse in the description of the request. 

All the information is clear and exercising the right to access is simple and straightforward. This is not for all. The point is that, in order to make a request, you have to indicate your identity through the Cl@ve authentication system, which provides three specific authorization means for local residents and one for UE citizens.


As we write these lines, the “Ciudadanos UE” option results in a “service unavailable” page. Fortunately, at the bottom of the page there is a link to a downloadable form which allows you to overcome the obstacle.

As for public museums, libraries and universities, there is often a form to fill on their website, as in this example of Valladolid University.

Contrary to the web solutions adopted by other Member States, such as in The Netherlands, Austria etc, there is no mean to see the list of requests unless you are authenticated to the system. For this reason PSI Monitor cannot automatically grab the requests that you insert into the transparencia.gob.be portal. You have to add manually your request into PSI Monitor if you want it to be listed there.


The general perception is that everything is in place to ensure a full access and reuse of public sector information at least for citizens of Spain; they can rely on a portal (transparencia.gob.es) which acts as an hub for information on the Open Government (action plans etc), on the right of access (access requests, guides etc) and on the relevant legislation.

In spite of this, it has to be said that EU citizens and companies may encounter some obstacles if they wish reuse data of public sector bodies of this country. As we above reported, the list of requests is not freely consultable without authentication; the same if you want to make a new request. However, the authentication sytem provided does not work at the moment.


A transparent and publicly accessible database of requests for the re-use of public sector information (PSI).

Funded by the European Union

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