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The Statute of Autonomy, the basic institutional instrument regulating the Basque Country

"The Statute of Autonomy, popularly known as the Statute of Guernica, passed on December 18, 1979, begins by stating that "the Basques, or Euskal Herria, as the expression of their nationality, shall be constituted as an Autonomous Community within Spain, under the name of Euskadi, or the Basque Country, in accordance with the present Statute which is their basic institutional instrument."

The law specifies that the Community comprises the provinces of Alava, Gipuzkoa and Bizkaia and also leaves the door open to the incorporation of the Community of Navarra into the Basque Country, should the former decide to become part of Euskadi. Euskara, the Basque language, is named as one of the official languages of the Basque Country. The other is of course Spanish.

Power in the Basque Country is exercised through the Basque Parliament, the Basque Government and its lehendakari (President). The Basque Parliament, with 25 representatives from each province, is competent in legislative matters, stimulates and controls the action of the Basque Government and approves its budgets. The Parliament's 75 diputados, or members, are elected for a maximum period of 4 years and themselves elect one of their number as lehendakari. The President—who holds the highest representative power of the Basque Country and the ordinary representation of Spain in the Community—then names his consejeros (autonomous government ministers) who take responsibility for the different Government departments and who also make up the autonomous Cabinet or Executive

The Parliament also appoints Basque representatives to the Spanish second House, the Senate.

The administration of justice in the Basque Country is structured in accordance with the act of parliament governing the judiciary. At the top of the system is the Supreme Court of Justice, which has authority over the whole Autonomous Community. Magistrates, judges and clerks are named according to the stipulations of the public parliamentary act governing the legal system and its General Council. Candidates for the posts are expected to know Basque and have a good grounding in traditional Basque Law.

The Statute of Guernica also stipulates that to run its financial affairs properly, the Basque Country should have its own Hacienda, or Treasury. The economic relationship between Spain and the Basque Country is governed by the traditional foral system of the Concierto Económico, or Economic Agreement, under the competences of the institutions of the Historic Territories for maintaining, establishing and regulating the tax system in accordance with the general Spanish tax structure, the regulations of the Concierto Económico, and the laws passed by the Basque Parliament. The Agreement also sets out the contribution the Basque Country makes to Spain, known as the Cupo, or quota, to cover general expenditure on areas of national interest for which the Basque Autonomous Community does not have responsibility.

The Statute defines all the competences of the Basque Country, whether exclusive to the Community or those acting as vehicles for basic Spanish legislation, as well as the exclusive competences of the individual systems of each of the Historic Territories.

Nevertheless, a good number of powers expressly included in the Statute still remain to be transferred to the Basque Administration. This is the case with INEM (the National Employment Institute), with the management of the Autonomous Community's ports and its three airports, and with the organisation and operation of prisons.

Fecha de la última modificación: 05/06/2009