THE Spanish government wants to change industrial legislation by obliging regional governments to be more flexible over shop opening hours and to stop hindering the opening of new ones. The Ministry of Finance wants to increase the weekly 72 hours now permitted to 84, so that supermarkets and superstores opening six days a week can open for 14 hours each day, instead of the current 12.
The ministry also proposes to increase the number of national holidays when trading is permitted from eight to 12.
Relaxing the regulations would mainly affect hypermarkets and department stores with more than 300 square metres of floor space, since small business are already free to choose their hours and whether or not they open on fiesta days.
These amendments will be presented to Brussels at the end of this month to demonstrate Spain’s commitment to increasing competitiveness in the retail industry.
New efforts had to be made to boost it, said junior minister, Jose Manuel Campa, while his superior at the Finance Ministry, Elena Salgado, who is also Spain’s second vice-president, underlined the need for improvements but said that this required the cooperation of autonomous governments setting regional opening hours.
With the exception of Madrid, most regional governments generally ignore Brussels’ directives removing restrictions over opening hours, claiming they did this to protect small businesses.
In fact Spain received a rap over the knuckles from the European Court of Justice a few weeks ago when it declared that not only Catalan legislation but national laws applied to hypermarkets and superstores breached commercial freedom.