Guidelines for the International Activity
All national or international travel by an official delegation of the Senate must be authorised by the Bureau of the Senate. The authorisation must specify at least the following details: the travel destination, the composition of the delegation, the duration of the official trip and expenses covered, according to the following criteria.
Any request for authorisation to the Bureau must include justification for the proposed travel and an estimate of the expenses involved.
On completion of the trip, a report must be drawn up on the activity carried out.
The Bureau’s authorisation must specify the composition of the official delegations of the Senate.
The attendance by the Speaker or members of the Bureau appointed by the former at international conferences and meetings to which they are invited is considered authorised as from this resolution.
International trips by the President will also be considered authorised when these are institutional trips by invitation from a foreign Parliament, within the framework of bilateral relations with that country, or when they are taken in representation of Spain at the request of the Presidency of the Government or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.
The official delegation will be composed of the Speaker of the Senate and the Speakers of the Chamber as determined. The economic system will be based on the principle of reciprocity, unless the economic situation of the country being visited renders said principle unviable.
The Speaker may also lead delegations composed of Senators belonging to various Committees who, due to the subject matter, attend Parliamentary Forums for bilateral cooperation with countries of preference.
The delegation will comprise members of the Bureau of the Senate as determined.
Travel to meetings of the Presidency of the European Union: As far as possible, the official delegation will conform to the criteria set forth in the official invitation.If not specified, the general criterion for travel by the Committees will apply.
For each six-month Presidency, a proposal for authorisation will be raised to the Bureau for all the international activity scheduled for the six-month period, attaching the travel schedule sent by the host Parliament and an estimate of expenses according to the number of parliamentarians who may be attending the meetings, subject to a specific authorisation for each one.
Other travel by the Committees: The Bureau of the Senate will assess the convenience of other travel in each case.As a general rule, the official delegation will be composed of the Speaker and three members of the Committee, where two of the latter will be representatives of the two main parliamentary groups and the third a representative of one of the other parliamentary groups in the Committee in question, in accordance with a system of rotation for successive trips.Exceptionally, the official delegation may be formed by the Speaker of the Committee and four of its members, based on the aforementioned criteria. Unless the Bureau’s resolution provides other criteria, under no circumstances may the delegation include Senators who do not belong to the Committee.
The duration of the official trip will take into account the time at which the first meeting or event on the official programme starts and where it is to be held.
As a guideline, on travel involving flights of no more than three hours (namely, on European flights to destinations such as Brussels, Rome or Paris), if the meeting starts after 15.00 and there are flights available in the morning for attendants to arrive at the meeting in reasonable time, the official travel will take place on the day of the meeting. The return travel will take place once the meeting is over if there are reasonable flights available for attendants to return to Madrid on the same day.
On travel involving flights of three or more hours, the journey may be made on the day before the meeting. The return journey may be made the day after the completion of the official programme. These criteria may be adapted when flight combinations so allow or require, where the Secretariat General will be responsible for said decision.
In any case, the journey will set off from and return to the city of Madrid, unless there is a reasonable combination of flights or trains to or from the city preferred by the Senator and said combination does not significantly increase expenses.
If the start of or return from the trip is brought forward or postponed and made on different dates as preferred by the Senator, the corresponding expenses will not be on the Chamber’s account.
The official travel authorisation will include the following items: transport costs (air ticket, train ticket, etc.); hotel expenses (bed and breakfast); travel allowances (to cover costs other than the above, such as transfers to and from the airport, lunches and dinners during the official travel); interpreters, where necessary; official gifts; and, where appropriate, the cost of using the authorities room at airports. Other extraordinary expenses deemed necessary must be authorised specifically. For each trip, a travel health insurance policy will be taken out. In any case, travel expenses must be rational and contained.
As a general rule, flights will be booked in business class unless the air carrier does not have said class; and train journeys will be booked in Club class or similar.Flights should preferably be made with Iberia, in accordance with the agreement signed by the Parliament, avoiding stopovers where possible.
Flight or train bookings will be made using tariffs that allow for their cancellation or modification at the lowest possible cost.
Priority will be given to both outbound and inbound flights of return journeys being made with the same air company wherever possible, other than where this involves a higher cost. And, in the event of making stopovers, priority will be given to the different stages of the journey being connected, in such a way as to avoid losses arising from the cancellation or delay of any of the legs of the journey. Furthermore, efforts will be made to choose the shortest possible stopovers, within reason, wherever there are various options at a similar cost.
In the event of a member of the delegation needing to modify the length of a trip or change air company for personal reasons, the ticket booked for the rest of the delegation will be handed over in such a way that any expenses incurred are borne by the individual making the changes, as well as those for processing the booking of new flights.
Transfers of the delegation from the airport to the hotel in the city of destination and vice versa will be provided by the Spanish Embassy in the country of destination insofar as it has the necessary resources. Transfers may be charged to the Senate only in exceptional cases, when they are not provided by the host or the Embassy and there are security reasons that make them indispensable. Otherwise, the cost of transfers within the city of destination will be on the account of the members of the delegation and taken as included in their travel allowances.
The official travel authorisation will cover only the costs of accommodation and breakfast. When so required by the establishments, each member of the delegation must provide his/her personal credit card to guarantee any extra expense that may arise.
As a general rule, the rooms will be reserved in the "standard" category and will be double for single use with breakfast included, unless other accommodation arrangements are advised due to special conditions in the country of destination.
Travel allowances will be calculated always with reference to the departure time of the flights from Madrid airport and the time of arrival at Madrid airport, excluding the time travellers need to be at the airport before their flight. The same criteria will apply when traveling on other means of transport.
If the start of or return from the trip is brought forward or postponed and made on different dates as preferred by the Senator, the travel allowances will not be increased under any circumstances.
As a general rule, the official travel authorisation will cover interpreting requirements during meetings in the country of destination. The Secretariat General will assess the type of interpretation required in each case in accordance with a criterion of rationalisation and containment in spending.
The Department of International Relations of the Senate will establish the criteria for official gifts on official visits by the Chamber, taking into account the official programme and the authorities with whom the meetings are to be held and in accordance with established practices.
The Department of International Relations of the Senate will request the use of authorities rooms during journeys made by official delegations led by the Speaker of the Senate, by one of the members of the Bureau of the Senate or by the Speakers of the Senate Committees, in accordance with Circular 3/2015-1 of the Presidency of the Government regulating access to authorities rooms at Spanish airports.
The official delegations will be accompanied by officials from the Secretariat General of the Senate, as determined in each case and based on the specific needs of the trip.
Official visits to the Senate involving expenses for the Chamber will require a specific resolution by the Bureau.
In principle, there will be a maximum of two per year, one every six months, unless, at the request of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and according to Spanish interests, the Bureau exceptionally resolves to accept more visits.
Without prejudice to the preference given to the principle of reciprocity, the system for authorised expenses will include a maximum of eight people and accommodation, transfers within Spain, interpreters and the cost of organising the programme, including protocol and courtesy expenses. In any case, the proposal submitted to the Bureau by the Secretariat General will include an estimate by the Department of International Relations of the Senate.
The system for authorised expenses will include protocol and courtesy expenses arising from the organisation of the programme.
The Bureau of the Senate will resolve on the creation and composition of Friendship Groups. Both the trips and visits will require the corresponding resolution by the Bureau. They will be alternate and will not exceed two a year in any case.
As a general rule, only the members of the corresponding Friendship Group will be able to travel and they may not be substituted.
The system for expenses will comply with the principle of reciprocity and, failing that, the general criteria in place for visits by Speakers of Parliaments.
The Senate will organise international conferences and forums in which Spain participates when so required and in accordance with the planning of alternative meetings in one country or another, when so required by the rotating presidency of an international organisation or when so recommended by the commitments resulting from the Senate’s international activity within the principles of austerity and efficiency in resource management.
In any case, it will be essential to obtain prior authorisation from the Bureau of the Senate, which will assess whether or not it is appropriate in accordance with the expense estimate submitted by the Department of International Relations of the Senate.
Palace of the Senate, 27 July 2016.