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Administrative Reform and the Autonomous State in Spain

Jaime Rodríguez-Arana Muñoz

This paper studies the Sole or Common Administration, as a response to the need to adapt the current Public Administration to the constitutional framework of the Autonomous State in Spain. Some aspects of this proposal relating to the Constitution, the State, the peripheral administration, subsidiary agencies and the leading role of local agencies.

The proposal of a Common Administration, or Sole, or Regular Administration arose from the need to adjust the structure and functioning of the Public Administration in Spain to the 1978 Constitution. It is assumed that the autonomous state model should make it possible for the various Autonomous Communities to have their own Administration to manage their community interests.

The general interest is managed through not only State Administration, but also through local and autonomic administrative action. The Sole Administration proposal is not a proposal for a new distribution of competencies; instead, it seeks to adjust administrative structure to constitutional principles, granting the Autonomous Communities a greater role in implementation.

Professors Peces Barba, Parejo and Aguiar have expressed criticism of the legal and constitutional aspects of the Sole Administration proposal. In their opinion, the Sole Administration is no more than federalist implementation. However, the Sole Administration theory is actually no more than an updating of the Public Administration as a function of its precepts and constitutional principles, which would not be possible under federalist implementation, and takes into account certain articles of the proposal and of the Autonomous State Statute.

In regard to peripheral administrative state reform, administrative decentralisation in favor of the Autonomous Communities is being reclaimed under the constitution. Administrative reform need not be limited to the transfer of competencies and duties, nor to structural reorganisation in the public sector; instead, it requires functional change of the subsisting Administration.

Subsidiariness implies that authority should be exercised at the most adequate level from the point of view of management efficiency, and that the government should complement rather than replace the action of individuals and families. In this regard, the Sole Administration doctrine goes a long way towards bring citizens closer to the Administration, while seeking to render quality services.

The paper concludes that the time is ripe for adapting the Public Administration structure to the Autonomous State model, realising the principles of efficiency, service to the general interest and closeness to the citizenry. The Sole Administration doctrine is based on a primordial element: service to the citizenry. The proposal leads to thinking of new ways of administrating that will be more in line with human needs and fundamental rights, rather than organisational problems as such.

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