Access to public information
If you have any queries about Transparency, you can communicate them by filling out the following Transparency Form.
What is public information?
This is all existing data, content and documents in any format that have been compiled or kept, that are in the hands of the administration and other bodies subject to the transparency laws, and that have been compiled or acquired in the exercise of their functions, with the only limitations stipulated by law.
Who can ask for public information?
Any natural or legal person has the right to ask for access to public information. This right can be exercised from age 16 years and is not dependent on justifying any personal interest in the information.
The administrative process guarantees the rights of applicants regarding controlling deadlines and the possibility of filing appeals in the case of nonconformity. However, the identity of the person submitting the application must be authenticated for it to be processed, in accordance with the access to public information procedure established in Law 19/2014, on transparency, access to public information and good governance.
Do you have to say why you want the information?
The applicant does not have to state the reason why they are applying for access to information, and this lack of justification alone can never be cause for turning the application down. However, if the reason is given as to why the application for information is being made, this can be taken into consideration in cases where there is a limitation on access stipulated by law.
Other ways to ask for public information
General information on municipal processes and procedures, installations, departments, and the opening times and services provided by Barcelona City Council can be obtained through the different citizen communication channels made available to them.
If you would like to consult the documents deposited in the municipal archive centres, there is a specific procedure for asking for an appointment to do so.
As the interested party, you can consult the status of a procedure through Barcelona City Council’s Citizen's File or by contacting the department that is managing the procedure directly. You can also obtain personalised information about specific procedures and processes through Barcelona City Council’s virtual office.
Applicant access to the files of administrative procedures being processed is governed by the provisions of the legislation on administrative procedures and the legal system. Therefore, in this case, the transparency law procedure will not be applicable.
Information relating to some specific subjects such as environmental information have their own regulations for accessing information
The system is similar for applications for access to information where only the personal data of the interested party is requested. These applications must be processed according to LOPD directives and the rest of the personal data protection legislation. Further information is available on this link:
What reasons can be given for not processing an application for information?
The following applications will not be processed by reasoned decision:
- Applications requesting notes, drafts, summaries, opinions or any other internal working document that has no public relevance or interest.
- Applications that would mean a complex compilation process to obtain the information requested (in this case, an overview of the information can be provided by a previous hearing with the applicant).
- Where the information requested is in the drafting phase and must be made public, in accordance with active publicity obligations, within a period of three months.
- Applications that consist of legal consultations or requests for reports or rulings, without prejudice to consultations or requests for guidance established by the general legislation on administrative procedures and by sectoral laws, which are requested in accordance with the corresponding regulations
When can a request for access to public information be denied?
Access to information will be denied, or only partial access given, when this access can harm:
- Public security.
- The investigation or sanction of criminal, administrative or disciplinary offences.
- The secrecy or confidentiality of the procedures implemented by the Public Administration if this secrecy or confidentiality is a legally binding rule.
- The principle of equality of the interested parties in legal processes or effective legal protection.
- The rights of minors. Access to information relating to minors, the knowledge or dissemination of which could prejudice the free development of their personality in the future, can also be limited.
- Privacy and other legitimate private rights.
- Professional secrecy and rights to intellectual and industrial property.
Access to information can also be denied when this information is protected by a legally binding rule.
What happens if the information requested contains personal data?
Where the application involves data about third parties, these will be informed about the application so that they can oppose it should they choose to do so. In such cases, the administration must weigh up the purpose for which the information is requested against the possible harm it could cause, and make a final decision. Data that is merely identificatory relating to the organisation and its operation or public activity are exempt from this restriction. Access to information that contains specially protected personal data such as data relating to people’s ideology, union affiliation, religion, beliefs, racial origin, health or sex life will be denied. Access to data relating to committing criminal offences that do not lead to the offender's public admonishment will be denied, unless the affected party gives their written consent, which must be submitted with the application.
How are the limitations to the right to public information applied?
If the body or entity from whom the information is requested considers that the public knowledge of it or its dissemination could impinge on these limitations, they must weigh up the real possibility of the information supplied causing any harm. If this harm could affect the rights and interests of third parties, these will be informed about the application so that any claims these persons may make can be taken into consideration when weighing up whether access will be allowed. If part of the information is not affected by the limitations on the right to access it, then access to it will be allowed and the applicant will be informed about what information has not been provided.
Who takes this decision?
The mayor of Barcelona has delegated the competence of dealing with applications for access to information to the City Council’s management structure, or more specifically to the managers of the areas, districts and institutes.
Therefore, the resolutions of applications to access public information are adopted by the manager responsible for the department or institute that holds this information and, where a municipal company has the information, by the manager of the area to which the company is affiliated.
In what time period must the City Council respond to the application?
The City Council must identify the organ or entity that holds this information and process the application. Once they have received the notification of the application, the body or entity that holds the information has one month in which to process it. Once this period has elapsed, the body responsible for processing must contact the person that has submitted the application.
Where justified by the complexity or volume of the information requested, this processing period can be extended to a month and a half, after which time the person that has submitted the application must be contacted.
This period will not apply in the following cases:
- If the information requested is not correctly identified or if the applicant must authenticate their identity, the applicant will be asked to complete the request with this information. They will be granted at least 10 days to do so, during which time the processing period will be temporarily suspended.
- Where the access to information could affect third parties, any relevant allegations must be presented. A minimum of 10 days will be granted to do so. The resolution period will be suspended until the affected party presents their allegation or until a period of 15 days has passed, whichever occurs first.
Once notification of the resolution has been issued, if this is favourable (partially or totally), the City Council has 30 working days to deliver the information.
What happens if an answer is not given in this time period?
The law establishes positive administrative silence regarding the procedure to access public information. Therefore, if no answer is given within the set time period, the application must be understood to have been accepted. This general rule does not apply only in cases where a law establishes negative administrative silence regarding access to information in a particular area, or where the limitations expressly recognised by the transparency, access to public information and good governance law or another legally binding rule are applicable. The procedure to effectuate access to information in the case of positive administrative silence is to submit a request to the City Council informing them that once the processing period has ended, the application will be understood to have been accepted by administrative silence. The City Council has 30 days to deliver the information starting from the date of this communication.