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Back to Index of of Emergency Legislative Activities

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Spain

I. Functioning of National Legislature

Neither the Regulation of the Congress of Deputies (Reglamento del Congreso de los Diputados)[1] nor the Regulation of the Senate (Reglamento del Senado)[2] provide for specific measures for the functioning of the body in case of emergencies. However, the Spanish Constitution provides that in case a state of alarm is declared by the Executive, it may only last for fifteen days unless extended under the authorization of Congress.[3] This happened on March 14, 2020, when a State of Alarm was adopted.[4]

During a State of Alarm, the Government must immediately inform the Congress of Deputies about all the decrees that it issues related to this measure. In the event that the Government wishes to extend the state of alarm beyond fifteen days, it must request an authorization from Congress before the term expires.[5] The decision will be made in plenary session, and the parliamentary groups will be able to present proposals on the scope and current conditions.[6]

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II. Emergency Parliament

No provisions for a prearranged subgroup or an emergency Parliament have been identified.

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III. Working During COVID-19 Pandemic

Parliamentary activity has been postponed for two weeks starting on March 12, 2020, in accordance with an agreement by the Junta de Portavoces del Congreso de los Diputados (representatives of the main political parties in Parliament), on the proposal of the Presidency, and in agreement with the health authorities.[7]

The Junta de Portavoces del Congreso de los Diputados agreed on a number of measures such as the suspension of tours of the building and extra-parliamentary actions. It further clarified that Congress is not closed and will continue to operate for any urgent matter.[8]

In general, all legislative work as well as technical and political management of the Congress of Deputies will be carried out electronically as much as possible. The electronic vote registry will remain open for all purposes, and formulas will be evaluated that can improve the capacity of the Congress of Deputies to act in current and future circumstances, such as videoconference meetings or electronic voting, among others.[9] The procedure for electronic voting in the Congress of Deputies has been regulated by a resolution issued by the leadership of May 21, 2012.[10] Similar measures apply in the Senate.[11]

Both the Congress of Deputiesand the Senate have adopted action plans against the epidemiological situation caused by the spread of COVID-19, in order to reduce the risk of contagion in the workplace.[12] The measures include notices with information and hydroalcoholic gel dispensers placed at building entrances, elevators, cafes, and restaurants.[13] The cleaning of common use areas, such as doorknobs and elevator buttons, has been enhanced.[14]

Additionally, plastic badges have been replaced by disposable adhesive labels. People who access the Parliament’s buildings will have to show their ID, to avoid physical contact with the building’s security guards.[15] Among the strategic measures for the organization of work, all visits to the Parliament and all extra-parliamentary acts have been suspended, and it is recommended that people at risk stay at home.[16] Minimum services will be established to guarantee essential functions.[17] To put these measures into practice, teleworking is facilitated when necessary and requested by the corresponding Directorate.[18]

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IV. Operation of Legislative Offices When Members and Staff Are Unable to Travel

No information has been located about a pre-established law or regulation specifically addressing the operations of Parliament’s offices when members and staff are unable to travel and movement is restricted. However, please see the information provided in Section III addressing specific measures adopted under the COVID-19 situation. 

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Prepared by Graciela Rodriguez-Ferrand
Senior Foreign Law Specialist
March 2020


[1] Reglamento del Congreso de los Diputados, Boletin Oficial de las Cortes Generales [B.O.C.G.] Feb. 10, 1982, https://perma.cc/GP2A-RFQA.

[2] Reglamento del Senado, B.O.C.G, May 9, 1994, https://perma.cc/YPZ2-VZVL.

[3] Constitución Española [CE] art. 116.2, https://perma.cc/5RWJ-LMAN.

[4] Real Decreto Mar. 14, 2020, Real Decreto 463/2020, de 14 de Marzo, por el que Se Declara el Estado de Alarma para la Gestión de la Situación de Crisis Sanitaria Ocasionada por el COVID-19, https://perma.cc/4WL5-NK2T.

[5] CE art. 116.

[6] Id.

[7] Press Release, Congreso de los Diputados, El Congreso Aplaza su Actividad Durante las Próximas dos Semanas (Mar. 12, 2020), https://perma.cc/RL79-KVX9.   

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Resolución de la Mesa del Congreso de los Diputados, de 21 de mayo de 2012, para el Desarrollo del Procedimiento de Votación Telemática (May 21, 2012), https://perma.cc/WEJ3-XA2D.

[11] Javier Casqueiro et al., El Congreso y el Senado Suspenden Casi Toda su Actividad Durante los Próximos 15 Días, El País (Mar. 12, 2020), https://perma.cc/476V-EBCZ.

[12] Congreso de los Diputados, Plan de Acción del Congreso de los Diputados en Relación a la Situación Epidemiológica Producida por la Extensión del Coronavirus (Mar. 6, 2020), https://perma.cc/Z6S2-8QWR, and Senado, Plan de Actuación del Senado Frente a Casos de Infección por Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) (Mar. 11, 2020), https://perma.cc/H426-7J34.

[13] Id.

[14] Id.

[15] Id.

[16] Id.

[17] Id.

[18] Id.

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Last Updated: 12/30/2020