One Stop Shop in Catalonia



Policy areas

Organisation name Government of Catalonia, Ministry of Business and Knowledge. Business Management Office

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Contact person: Cristina Prunyonosa

Promoting changes in the relationship between businesses and government that facilitate economic activity has been a priority for the Government of Catalonia. This new relationship model is based on confidence in entrepreneurs and is focused on reducing administrative burdens and bureaucracy. It is a change of direction in which the company should be placed in the spotlight of public policy and not vice versa. This new approach has necessarily involved a transformation of the legal framework and a wide technological change, because the instruments for the production of the services are not what were already in place. However, above all it is an internal organisational change that causes a real cultural change of the administration compared to how it is traditionally understood. The government has achieved this change of direction through two plans for the implementation of the One-Stop Shop, with the following methodology:

  1. The first step is the rationalisation and simplification of government procedures to eliminate unnecessary administrative burdens. The project team has eliminated 80 procedures and simplified the 68% of those remaining.
  2. The second step is the implementation of the one-stop shop (OSS) as a reference point for entrepreneurs and corporations when dealing with government bodies, with the following characteristics:
  • There is an integration of services and unified processing of all procedures required by companies throughout their life cycle, regardless of the government authority responsible: state, regional or local.
  • It is multichannel: the online channel is prioritised, but entrepreneurs can choose other channels.
    · Management is subject to standardisation and homogenisation throughout the region: the same processing for the same activity in all 947 municipal councils in Catalonia.
  • Speed and efficiency will lower administrative costs for businesses as it is not necessary to wait for an answer, and they can begin their business as soon as the communication is made.
  • Networking is introduced, through the collaborative service provision model.

Catalonia has now a fully operational OSS with 524 procedures included in its catalogue, which provides entrepreneurs and companies with comprehensive multichannel services for all levels of government. This means that processing takes place at a single point, and ensures that procedures are swift and proficient. To implement the OSS, it has been necessary to create several technological resources. In particular, the OSS website ( is designed to help entrepreneurs with their administrative procedures, regardless of the government body responsible. The website includes an innovative online tool based on a series of questions that help to define and inform about the necessary procedures.  It includes the order in which they have to be carried out, requirements, documents needed, forms and fees. The scope of the project is huge. It affects all responsible authorities on the legalisation of activities as well as authorities with transversal responsibilities on IT issues or technical regulations of the different levels of government. This has been made possible thanks to the approval by the Parliament of Catalonia of Law 16/2015 on Administrative Simplification. The law covers three issues:

  1. minimal administrative involvement in business start-ups;
  2. the OSS model to be implemented in Catalonia;
  3. the information system to remove obstacles to access to business.

These procedures apply to a set of activities with no or low risk that account for 75% of all economic activity and benefit 435 000 companies or corporations, and almost 1.5 million workers.

The OSS project involves a major cultural change within the organisation and takes time to implement fully. The coming years the OSS will be consolidated, addressing the following challenges:

  • enhancing communication with local government bodies, to inform public-sector workers about the advantages of the OSS and internalise the new model for relationships with businesses;
  • raising awareness among entrepreneurs about the new services that are available and increasing the use of those services;
  • focusing on standardisation processes to ensure the same conditions for all entrepreneurs in Catalonia.

OSS services are going to be improved through the following projects to make the procedures more business-friendly:

  • Digital by default: the electronic channel must be the default communication channel between entrepreneurs and government bodies. With digital communication with enterprises and e-communication between local and regional governments, electronic communication can be ensured at all stages of the procedure.
  • Give the information only once: coordination between regional and local administrations will allow entrepreneurs to provide all the information about their activity in a single step.
  • Government-to-business: ICT solutions for communicating information on a massive and simple basis must be developed.
  • Now, open is easier: the benefits of the OSS services must be explained to entrepreneurs, using all the available channels.

To develop and implement these projects, there is the collaboration of other European partners, since the OSS project is part of the project PURE COSMOS funded by Interreg Europe since January 2017. Thanks to the analysis of good practices developed in other European countries and the collaboration of experts the OSS of Catalonia, its services will be able to be improved.

SMEs are at the centre stage of Catalonian public policy, since 90% of Catalan companies have fewer than 10 employees and over 50% of these are self-employed. One of the major problems for the competitiveness of SMEs is the existence of very complex, or poorly lay down, authorisation procedures, which significantly slows the access of entrepreneurs to business activity. Therefore, in this context SMEs have to fulfil multiple requirements to start business activities or to keep them going.

In Catalonia, there are three levels of public administration involved in the regulation on the economic activity: general state administration (country), regional administration (Generalitat or Government of Catalonia) and local government.

That can be summarised as follows:

The state administration is responsible for the taxation and the setting up of the companies. The first step to be followed by any person or entity wishing to develop an economic activity is to be constituted as a holder of rights and obligations, whether as a legal person (limited partnership, limited company, cooperative, …) or as an individual business (self-employed). The procedures necessary in starting a business depend on the legal form chosen. In general, the responsibility for those procedures is with the state administration, except for the tax payment of corporate operations, and the establishment of certain forms of legal entities, which are the responsibility of the regional administration.

Once the company has been established, and depending on the specific economic activity to be carried out, it must legalise its activity according to the procedures needed. In general, the set of legalisation procedures related to the economic activity is under the regional administration competence. The regulation that determines the requirements for the economic activities is significant. More than 500 different procedures necessary to legalise all sorts of activities have been identified, although a specific corporation should not apply for all of them, only those related to their field.

Finally, the legalisation of the physical establishment where the activity is carried out is under the local administration competence. There are 947 municipalities in Catalonia with different legal frameworks applying to the start-up of an establishment. The procedures identified in this field are related to health and safety standards, the environment, urban use and the works of the local conditioning. Although these procedures are few in number (17), they have a high impact on the economic activity, since they are transversal and may affect any economic activity.

The origin of the project lies in early 2011. At that time, the opening of a business was complex for several reasons:

  • There were multiple actors with responsibilities for legalising the activity, with a partial view of necessary requirements. This situation made it very difficult for companies to obtain the information needed to legalise an activity because they had to go to different ‘windows’ of different levels of government and different units and agencies.
  • The authorisation of intervention schemes generates administrative burdens, and associated costs. These schemes mean that the company should wait for the administrative permission; as they had made an investment, they need to obtain a return on it.
  • There was heterogeneity in the treatment of economic activities between the different Catalan municipalities, which leads to uncertainty for economic operators.

Encouraging changes in the relationship model between corporations and the administration that facilitates economic activity has therefore been a priority for the Government of Catalonia. Such a new model is based on confidence in entrepreneurs, and it is focused on reducing administrative burdens and bureaucracy.

To make the new model real, Catalonia has been developing two OSS operational plans addressed to entrepreneurs: the first one covering the period 2011–2014 and the second one covering the period 2015–2017.

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