Access To Land

Policy environment

A multi-level regulatory framework, still little developed

Farmland in Spain is placed under a multi-level governance system. The Spanish Government has transferred land planning competences to the autonomous Governments in 2008 through the law Real Decreto Legislativo in 2008. The autonomous Government of Catalonia designs national and sectorial plans, including decisions about which rural areas should be protected, according to the kind of crop, ecosystem and location. The specific use of land depends on the municipalities, who have the responsibility to make the municipal planning, always pursuant to the Catalan legislation.

This multi-scale division of competences has driven to multiple situations due to different approaches. The vast majority of municipalities have transformed rural areas into industrial soil or housing settlements, in order to increase their revenues. Few have chosen to preserve the municipality’s rural and natural areas, although they are minority.

Land market regulation

Land market regulation is largely inexistent in Spain, as well as in Catalonia. The successive tenant farming statutes that have been adopted are largely ineffective. Attempts at land reform in the most unequal regions, such as Andalusia, have overall had little impact. The lack of proper regulation also fuels a huge disparity of prices and a black market.

In Catalonia, since 1980, the Catalan Institute for Land (INCASOL) has been buying land, but its interventions have been mostly focused on social housing and fostering economic activities, such as industry.

The lack of recognition and support for new entrants

In Spain, there is a subsidy to support the setting-up of young farmers, which is part of the CAP measures. Any person between 18 and 40 who is about to start farming (working full time) can apply for it. The person has 2 years to get established and has a 5 year-compromise with the government to continue farming.

The basic aid is €20.000. It can be increased if the farmer meets one or more of these criteria: the applicant is a woman, the project is located in a mountain municipality, the applicant creates a new workplace. The total aid cannot exceed €50.000.

This amount varies from region to region, as each regional government decides whether to add to the amount transferred by the UE. There are also differences in the periodicity of the call: in Catalonia, there’s a call for application to young farmers’ subsidy every year; in some regions there hasn’t been a call for 3 years.

Apart from this subsidy, the Government of Catalonia offers some specific courses, with EAFRD funds, but none of these trainings are formal or long term. It also provides support to the Shepherds School, which is providing professional training for new entrants.

Catalonia: strong conservation policies, being weakened

During the 1980s and until mid 1990s, Catalonia was a pioneer state regarding conservation policies. In the mid 1970s, Barcelona Provincial government created an innovative network system of natural parks, which joined the Government’s network in 1985 when the natural parks law entered into force. Both Catalonian and Spanish rules were advanced for the time. Shortly after, in 1992, the Natural Outstanding Plan came into force, a preventive protection scheme covering more than 25% of the country, and about 140 spaces, based on their flora and fauna values.

During the years 2000, no new remarkable law or regulation came into force in Catalonia, except for the implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives. Between 2003 and 2010, there was a considerable budget increase for nature management, although few more advancements were made.

Since 2010, a change in government led to quickly scrap all the regulatory body and management structure for biodiversity conservation. Not only is there a lack of progress in biodiversity conservation and in the natural park protection framework but also the current government is undoing the progress that took years to achieve. As a corollary, the public budget for nature conservation declined by 60% between 2009 and 2012.

The situation in 2016

On April 2016 a campaign on fair and sustainable land policy was launch in Spain, taking place in the Spanish Lower house. In this event was presented the report "Landgrabing and Land Concentration in Spain: study of the land structure":

Here you can dowload the brochure's resume:

  Law Real Decreto Legislativo 2/2008, del 20 de junio del 2008:
  Catalonian subsidy for young farmers: Ajuts per a la primera instal·lació de joves agricultors i agricultores:
 Ley 49/2003, de 26 de noviembre, de Arrendamientos Rústicos:

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In this section
Background: Agriculture
Background: Land
Policy environment
Good Practices