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Spain

Spain reverted to a constitutional monarchy in 1975. It has a population of 42 million. In addition to a bicameral Parliament (Cortes General) it has 17 regional “Autonomous Communities” (Comunidades Autónomas) each with their own Cortes. There are also some 8000 Municipalities (Municipios) which are grouped together into 50 Provinces (Provincias) within the Autonomous Communities. There is thus central, regional and two tiers of local government in Spain. The Comunidades Autónomas have their own administrative and executive systems and, whilst accountable to the Cortes Generales, they have the ability to enact legislation on most issues.

An article of the Constitution requires the public authorities to guarantee the protection of the health, safety and economic interests of consumers and this was enacted by general statute in 1984. The main responsibility for enforcement of consumer protection is delegated to the 17 Comunidades Autónomas. The larger Municipios also have an enforcement responsibility; this is coordinated by the Comunidades Autónomas.
Spain covers a land area of 504,782 km2.

Organisational Structure and Background

Law 3/1985 revoked Spain's existing metrology laws and introduced a completely new legal metrology framework of control. The new system provided a central role for the State in all areas of metrological competence. Operational responsibilities are however assigned to regional and local authorities.

Thus, the Spanish metrological system is actually divided in two main areas : the legislative competence, that is completely performed by the Central Government, and the executive competence, that is performed by the Comunidades Autónomas. As a result, the Central Government is responsible of making the laws and establishing which measuring instruments must be controlled and the scope of that control, and the Comunidades Autonómas are responsible to execute those laws and carry out effectively those controls. However there are still some regions in Spain that have not completely assumed their metrological competencies which are then executed by the Central Government through the Centro Español de Metrología.

The Centro Español de Metrologia (CEM), the Spanish Centre of Metrology
, is the main instrument of the Central Government and is responsible for the metrology infrastructure in Spain. It is a governmental and autonomous institution established by Law 31/1990 under the Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología, the Ministry of Science and Technology. CEM was created in 1985 as a consequence of Law 3/85 of 18 March on Metrology.

The main tasks of CEM are the obtainment, maintenance, development and dissemination of the national measurement standards, the development of a Spanish calibration service, performance of State functions in national and EU metrological control, maintenance of the Metrological Control Record, carrying out research and development projects in the metrological field, the training of specialists in metrology, and EU and international liaison.

In the field of legal metrology CEM is responsible for implementing and securing enforcement of all EU Directives on measuring instruments and average quantity prepackage controls. Type approvals can be performed by CEM and Comunidades Autónomas. Initial verifications are performed by CEM, the Comunidades Autónomas or by approved manufacturers. Subsequent verifications and inspections are devolved to the autonomous governments, local authorities and the Police.

The Spanish Constitution, in Article 149, confers on the State, among others, exclusive competence to legislate on weights and measures. Previous laws on weights and measures in 1849, 1892 and 1967 were concerned with adopting metrological legislation to the establishment of the various systems of units which at any particular time existed or were adopted by the General Conference on Weights and Measures. Law 3/1985 completely altered this approval in creating an entirely new legal framework for metrology.

Historically the first attempts at the unification of measures in Spain took place in the 13th century. The metric system was adopted in 1849. The political events that took place in Spain during the 1930s caused an almost total paralysation of metrological activities until Spain joined the OIML in 1956 as a signatory country. A third weights and measures law was introduced in 1967 but unification of metrological law and practice was not implemented by statute until the Law of Metrology in 1985. Simultaneously new CEM laboratories, administrative buildings and museum were opened on 22 May 1989 at Tres Cantos, Madrid.

Equipment Subject to National Controls

  • Simple length measures in trade use (type approval and initial verification).
  • Liquid volume measures (type approval and initial verification).
  • Volumetric counters for liquids other than water and their ancillary devices (type approval and initial verification).
  • Measuring systems for liquids other than water :

    • Fuel dispensers (type approval, initial verification, verification after repair or modification, periodic verification).
    • LPG dispensers (type approval and initial verification).
    • Measuring systems on road tankers for the transport and delivery of liquids of low viscosity and stored at atmospheric pressure, with the exception of potable liquids, and of LPG (type approval and initial verification).

  • Cold water meters (type approval and initial verification).
  • Hot water meters (type approval and initial verification).
  • Gas volume meters (type approval and initial verification).
  • Instruments for measuring vehicle exhaust emissions (gasoline) (type approval, initial verification, verification after repair or modification, and periodic verification).
  • Apparatus for measurement of the opacity and for determination of the light absorption coefficient of exhaust gas (type approval, initial verification, verification after repair or modification and periodic verification)
  • Electricity meters :

    • Alternating current inductive watt-hour meters for active energy, class 2 (type approval, initial verification, verification after repair or modification and periodic verification).
    • Alternating current static watt-hour meters for active energy, class 1 and 2 (type approval, initial verification, verification after repair or modification and periodic verification).

  • Sound level measuring instruments :

    • Sound level meters (type approval, initial verification, verification after repair or modification and periodic verification).
    • Integrating-averaging sound level meters (type approval, initial verification, verification after repair or modification and periodic verification).
    • Sound calibrators (type approval, initial verification, verification after repair or modification and periodic verification).

  • Counters for gaming machines (type approval, initial verification, verification after repair or modification and periodic verification).
  • Medium accuracy weights in trade use (general construction standard).
  • Load cells (type approval and initial verification).
  • Non-automatic weighing instruments (type approval, initial verification, verification after repair or modification and periodic verification).
  • Automatic weighing instruments (type approval and initial verification) :

    • Continuous totalising (beltweighers).
    • Gravimetric filling .
    • Catch weighers .

      • Checkweighers.

  • Medical measuring instruments.

    • Clinical thermometers (type approval and initial verification).
    • Blood pressure measures (type approval).
    • Syringes (type approval and initial verification).

  • Recording instruments used to monitor the air temperatures to which quick-frozen foods intended for human consumption are subjected during transport (type approval, initial verification, verification after repair or modification and periodic verification).
  • Road traffic instruments

    • Taximeters (type approval, initial verification, verification after repair or modification and periodic verification).
    • Tyre pressure gauges for motor vehicles (type approval, initial verification, verification after repair or modification and periodic verification).

  • Law enforcement instruments :

    • Speed detectors (type approval, initial verification, verification after repair or modification and periodic verification).
    • Evidential breath analyzers (type approval, initial verification, verification after repair or modification and periodic verification)

  • Alcoholmeters and alcohol hydrometers (type approval and initial verification).
  • Measuring instruments for grading cereals (type approval).
  • Ship tanks (type approval and initial verification).

Type Approval

The CEM is one of the laboratories that perform the test for type approval and employs 45 engineers for the purpose. The rest of the laboratories used by the Comunidades Autónomas are always of the highest quality, as National Investigation Centres or researching laboratories associated with the university system.

Regulations cover the manner of submissions, the period of validity of an approved pattern (normally 10 years) and provide the authority responsible of the type approval with powers of refusal and revocation.

Charges for type approval are based on the kind of instrument submitted, payments being made by the submitter directly to its local Inland Revenue office. Fees are established by regulation and are currently specified in Law 3/1985 and Law 66/1997. The CEM therefore has little flexibility in charges to be made to submitters.

The CEM is developing its type testing facilities to enable it to perform the full range of tests necessary to type approve all instruments subject to legal metrology control. At present it occasionally has to subcontract some testing to external laboratories but has a policy of only using accredited laboratories.

Initial Verification

A self-verification system exists whereby laboratories belonging to manufacturers or importers may be classified as "officially authorities metrological checking laboratories". This facility results from Law 3/1985 which provides for laboratories to be licensed by CEM or autonomous governments providing they meet specified criteria.

Authorised laboratories are licensed as "main" or "auxiliary" checking laboratories. Auxiliary laboratories may only check instruments belonging to the institution owning the laboratory whilst main checking laboratories may also check instruments submitted by other institutions. There are some 35 main and 20 auxiliary laboratories.

The criteria for licensing (accreditation) are specified in Royal Decree 1617/1985 of 11 September and are very similar as those established in EN45001. The scheme gives CEM and Comunidades Autónomas power to refuse and revoke licenses and further enables CEM and Comunidades Autónomas to exercise full control over those persons who may be appointed Manager and Assistant Manager of authorised laboratories, designed to secure sufficient responsibility, impartiality and technical knowledge. Audits are performed by CEM and Autonomous Communities technicians. The authorised laboratories apply marks of initial verification.

All equipment subject to type approval generally has to be initially verified. The details of the initial verification procedure are specified by regulation. As well as authorised laboratories, both CEM and the Comunidades Autónomas perform the initial verification function. Verification marks consist of an adhesive sticker and lead seals or stamps.

Initial verification fees are related to the sale price of each instrument and are specified in Law 3/1985 and Law 66/1997.

Arrangements to permit manufacturer self-declaration are now in place following implementation of Directive 90/384/EEC. CEM is providing training to its staff and those of the Comunidades Autónomas.

Inspection and Reverification

The arrangements for inspection, verification after repair or modification and periodical verification are included in Law 3/1985. There is no general system of periodical statutory re-verification so it must be established for each instrument by means of a law, monitoring being based on inspection activity.

Inspection is generally performed in accordance with State regulations by departments (normally Industry or Consumer Protection Departments) of the Comunidades Autónomas. Verification periods are:

Fuel dispensers 1 year
Tyre pressure gauges for motor vehicles 1 year
Sound level measuring instruments 1 year
Instruments for measuring vehicle exhaust emissions (gasoline) 1 year
Apparatus for measurement of the opacity and for determination of the light absorption coefficient of exhaust gas 1 year
Speed detectors 1 year
Evidential breath analyzers 1 year
Non-automatic weighing instruments 2 years
Counters for gaming machines 2 years
Recording instruments used to monitor the air temperatures to which quick-frozen foods intended for human consumption are subjected during transport 2 years
Taximeter 2 years
Electricity counters 5 years

Legal Metrology Practitioners and Scope

10 engineers (3 first and 7 average degree graduates) are employed in legal metrology work. 45 engineers (15 first and 30 average degree graduates) are employed in verification work by the laboratories. No specific training is required or provided other than in quality assurance EN29000 where CEM has a running programme to train staff in EN29000 assessment for legal metrology purposes. The courses are of two to three years duration.

CEM staff and those in the Comunidades Autónomas perform only metrology functions. They will receive and act upon consumer complaints about instruments. They are also responsible for the control of prepackages.

Sanctions

Sanctions and punishments are regulated by Law 3/1985 where the breaches which may be committed are classified together with the respective financial penalties. An administrative penalty system exists which provides the principal sanction where breaches of the law are established. Infringements are classified as minor, serious and very serious depending on factors such as risk to health, the transgressors position in the market, the amount of benefit obtained, the degree of intent, the seriousness of the social upset caused, the prevalence of the infringement and the extent of previous convictions. The administrative penalty process also allows for infringing instruments to be seized, sealed or confiscated. Actions identified in law as being breaches are:

  • using unauthorised units of measurement.
  • avoiding metrological controls and requirements specified in Law 3/1985.
  • obstructing or defying metrological personnel in the performance of their tasks.

Penalties are specified as:

  • Minor breaches. Maximum fine 3,000 EUR.
  • Serious breaches. Fine between 3,001 EUR/and 12,000 EUR.
  • Very serious breaches. Fine of between 12,001 and 60,000 EUR.

The procedure for imposing administrative penalties is specified in Law 3/1985:

  • When proceedings are initiated a 'judge' has to be appointed. He would normally be at least a head of department.
  • The 'judge' orders any necessary tests and evaluations.
  • The results of tests and facts of the case are prepared for the 'judge'.
  • The 'judge' notifies the accused of the charges, to be answered in 8 days.
  • After this period the 'judge' makes a decision and parties have a further 8 days to offer further evidence in defence or rebuttal.
  • A decision is transmitted to the organisation commencing the proceedings.

In 1992 24 administrative cases were heard. 1 went to Court (this normally happens when the administrative process has been exhausted and the case remains unagreed).

Directive 90/384/EEC

The Directive was implemented by Ministerial Order of 22 December 1994. The existing Law 3/1985 Article 7 scope of controls meant that all the instruments in Article 1(2)(a) of the Directive were potentially subject to metrological control.

It is anticipated that all existing initial verification bodies will be notified for EC verification on proof of their independence.

The CEM has plans to identify gravity zones and values based on research and data published by the National Geographical Institute of Spain. Instruments will be required to be marked on verification with the gravity zone in which they are calibrated.

The Spanish Order makes it an offence to use an instrument outside its marked weighing range. There are no requirements designating class of instrument to be used for particular applications. Classes are recommended for existing national purposes:

Direct sales Class Ill at least
Weighing lorries Class III
Person weighing instrument in medical use Class III

Updated March 2003