Spain welcomes its new law on international cooperation

29 marzo 2023

After a two-year process of negotiation, the new Spanish law on Cooperation for Sustainable Development and Global Solidarity was approved by the Spanish Congress on 9 February, 25 years after the first law was enforced.

The original law enacted in 1998 needed to be updated to respond to a far different international context, as well as to provide the various governmental and non-governmental Spanish players with adequate tools for this purpose.

During the negotiation period, the new law has been supported by almost all political parties. Only one parliamentary group opposed, creating therefore a very broad and almost unprecedented support in both Chambers. 

The main features of the new law incorporate:

  • The creation of a new instrument for financial cooperation (FEDES) that will replace the previous fund for cooperation;
  • A clear positioning to implement the feminist approach in all the instruments to be developed by the law;
  • The reference to international agendas like the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as the cooperation framework of the European Union, which did not exist at the time the first law was enacted;
  • Regarding funding, it also goes a step further by including the commitment of the government to reach by 2030 the target of 0.7% of its gross national product for Official Development Assistance (ODA). Although the percentage was already included in previous programming documents, the target has never been reached;
  • The reform of the Spanish Agency for Development Cooperation (AECID by its Spanish acronyms), including the status of the staff working in cooperation;
  • The definition of new coordination bodies to coordinate the large variety of actors engaged in development cooperation;
  • The inclusion of Education for Sustainable Development and global citizenship as an objective of Spanish cooperation.

The drafters of the new legislation were also keen to take into account the considerations of stakeholders such as local and regional governments and civil society organisations and the numerous and diverse institutions that composes the Spanish international cooperation ecosystem. Following a broad participatory process, 97% of the input received was reportedly incorporated.

This broad and deep reform has been generally well received by practitioners, particularly due to its ability to acknowledge the role and the wide variety of players that make Spanish decentralised cooperation successful, including at the different levels of sub-national government.

This law will serve as a basis to formulate the VIth Master Plan for Spanish cooperation, which is currently under preparation and mark the start of a six-month period to develop the regulations that are needed to make a reality some of the features included in the law, like the FEDES.

The new regulation entered into force on 22 February, the day after its publication in the official journal newsletter of the state. Find here the text of the new law (only in Spanish).

(Picture by Anastasiia Tarasova sur Unsplash)

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