The trade policy of the Community of Madrid in the last few years has centred on pushing forward measures that favour the development of commercial activity in order to move towards processes of liberalisation from the regimes that regulate economic activity. In line with this economic policy, on 26th June last the Act 1/2008 on Modernisation of Trade in the Community of Madrid approved a series of legal measures that were directed towards the amendment of the regulations and rules that govern the framework of commercial activity.

The Community of Madrid move in line with the European Policy (The Bolkestein Directive), namely to put an end to state intervention and protectionism in the economy.

The Act on the Modernisation of Trade in the Community of Madrid is structured in three articles, in which the legislative modifications are set out.

The first article of this Act aims to speed up market day activities in the Madrid Community, introducing amendments to the Act 15/1997, of 25 June, on the Market Day Activities of the Madrid Community ("Ley 15/1997, de 25 de junio de Actividades Feriales de la Comunidad de Madrid"). Through this Act the mandatory administrative authorisation that each entity organising a conference must seek in place until now is substituted by a system of communication, detailing all that is relevant to that market, the place and celebration thereof and all such information that help the Community of Madrid to promote awareness of the event and develop the activity.

The second article of this Act tackles the Act of Internal Trade in the Community of Madrid ("Ley del Comercio Interior de la Comunidad de Madrid"), focussing on the definition and principles that govern the activity of retailers and retailing businesses and the elimination of the need to enrol on various trade registers before starting business. Such is the case that, for example, the removal of the Register of Franchises and long distance retail businesses as it now exists on a national scale rendered its duplication unnecessary.

The amendments contained within Article 2 also concern the procedure to obtain administrative authority to install retail businesses, only maintaining the need to seek permission to install retail businesses whose ground space is greater than 2500 square metres, in accordance with the established basic state rules on these matters and it simplifies the procedure, assessing that the granting of the following authorisation conforms with the criteria that ensure the protection of the environment, the conditions for accessibility, traffic and mobility and the commercial nature of the proposals.

The authorisation is not need for those projects that involve the extension of an existing business as long as the ground space of the selling area upon which the enlargement is planned does not exceed 30% of the initial selling area space.

The second article of the Act also establishes the most polemic modification of the Act in the commercial sector in so much that it recognises the principle of the freedom of choice of opening and closing hours for businesses on work days and public holidays. In particular, both the weekly and daily limits that have been in place until now, relating to the maximum amount of hours in which commercial activity can take place, are removed.

Finally the third article changes article 61.2 of the Act 5/2002 of the 27 June, concerning drug addictions and other addictive disorders "(Ley 5/2002, de 27 de junio, sobre drogodependencias y otros trastornos adictivos"), granting the relevant administrative body the capability to award specific licences for the sale, supply or distribution of alcoholic beverages in establishments in which their consumption is not permitted, the powers to introduce, instruct and resolve disciplinary measures derived from the failure to comply with the obligation to arrange such a license (beforehand the rules distinguished the bodies that arranged one of other of these powers).

The amendments brought about by the Act 1/2008 contribute to increasing market supply, bringing with it lower prices and, moreover, the freedom of timetables will result in a favourable increase in consumer options and the creation of employment, a “push” without doubt positive for Spain in the current economic climate.