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Geólogo (Spain)

  • Proportionality information

    1. Have you examined whether the requirements under your national legal system are
    directly or indirectly discriminatory on the basis of nationality or residence?

    The requirements under our national legal system are not discriminatory on the basis of nationality or residence. The article 7 of Royal Decree 1000/2010 of August 5 about Compulsory Certification of Projects in Official Professional Associations (Colegios Profesionales) establishes that "Professionals established in any other member state of the EU should obtain certification of their projects, when providing services in Spain as free lancers, in the same terms as Spanish professionals". In order to facilitate the provision of professional services of geologists in general and of European Geologists (certified members of the European Federation of Geologists) in particular, ICOG’s General Assembly 2015/04/11 modified article 34 of its Internal Rules so that professional established in any EU member State will be allowed to certify their professional projects carried out in any country of the world, except North American countries, in the ICOG’s on-line registration system in the same terms as Spanish geologists.

    2. Which of the following overriding reasons relating to the general interest justifies the measure(s)?
    • Protection of the environment and the urban environment, including town and country planning
    • Other, please specify
       Protection against Natural hazards

    3. What specific risks or benefits have you identified that your measure(s) is designed to, respectively, minimise or maximise?

       Please try to be specific in describing the nature of the risks/benefits you have identified
       Where you have selected more than one overriding reason relating to the general interest in question 2 please be sure to address each of these in your response. Wherever possible please include evidence.


    In Spain only persons with a BsC University degree (5 years) or a grade University degree (4 years) can be registered at the Spanish Official Professional Association of Geologists (ICOG). No further compulsory state exam is needed. After some years of professional practice, members can request a Continuing Professional Development Title. This is the European Geologists title (which certifies competent persons) which ICOG awards as a licensee of the European Federation of Geologists EFG, and the title of Specialist in geological professional fields, both awarded by ICOG´s National Vetting Committee.

    Some activities included in the Spanish Mining Law are regulated, and such competences are shared with some other professions such as Mining engineers. This regulation means that activities under the name of "Geological works" may only be performed by professionally qualified persons with adequate specialized know-how. Membership is required to avoid negative repercussions for the health and safety of people and goods, particularly in the field of the prevention of natural hazards and safety of buildings and constructions. 

    4. How specifically do your measures operate to minimise the risk(s) or maximise the benefit(s) identified in question 3?

       When addressing this question please try to explain how the measures prevent the risks or guarantee the benefits.
       Where you have selected more than one overriding reason relating to the general interest in question 2 please be sure to address each of these in your response. Wherever possible please include evidence.


    The reserve of activities ensures that professionals have acquired the skills and knowledge necessary for the proper conduct the business activity, avoiding harm to people, property and environment, by providing them with the necessary infrastructure and means.

    The professional qualification, along with the registration in the Professional Association, minimizes the risk of contraventions to existing laws, which can be legally prosecuted. The Spanish ICOG registers professional projects and guarantees to third parties that projects were made according to the professional know-how and to regulations. Registering the projects provides professional a professional indemnity insurance. Geologists can prevent or minimize disasters caused by non-existent or lack of geotechnical studies of building and infrastructures. In Madrid area, several buildings experienced geotechnical problems then Royal Decree 3/2011 of December 14 about Public Sector Contracts established that all public projects should have a geotechnical study of the site were the projects are going to be developed. These problems significantly reduced. Chapter 3 of Building Code establishes that the geotechnical study should be signed by a competent person and geologists are recognised as competent persons in geotechnical works in art. 21 of ICOG’s statutes. 

    5. In so far as you are able, please provide information that you have gathered regarding the concrete effects of the measure(s).

       For example, through impact assessments or information gathered during implementation or review of a measure. Member States who have recently undergone reforms may in particular be able to contribute helpfully to this field. Where you are able to provide cost-benefit analyses this would be particularly valuable.
       Information on whether the measures indeed successfully prevented risks from being realised (e.g. the number of sanctions imposed, a drop in transgressions since the measure was introduced or consequences from previous modifications of the regulation) would equally be helpful.
       Where you have selected more than one overriding reason relating to the general interest in question 2 please be sure to address each of these in your response. You may also wish to include evidence on consumer satisfaction or other measurements of the impact.


    A geotechnical study is an element of security in building construction typified in the Building Code (RD 314/2006), in the Basic Document SE-C: Structural safety and Foundations, as a compendium of information quantified in terms of the characteristics of the terrain in relation to the type of building planned and the environment where it will be located. The provisions of the Code make it compulsory to carry out the analysis and sizing of foundations for any type of building. To carry out such study a set of data should be collected related to instability problems, location, prior conflicting uses (such as polluting industries, gardens or landfill), buried obstacles and constructive configuration and foundation of the neighboring buildings, available information on groundwater and rainfall, landslides, history/survey urban development, etc, and where appropriate, seismicity of the site, in accordance with the NCSE earthquake-resistant code.

    The project certification system has resulted in a 50% reduction of incidents between 2000 and 2010, and claimed compensations reduced from 1,2M€ in 2006 to 333.000€ in 2008, showing clear positive consequences for clients and citizens.

    6. Is the general interest objective you indicated in question 2 pursued in a consistent and systematic manner?.

       In approaching your response to this question please consider examples where you have addressed similar risks for comparable professions, not necessarily within the same sector. Is the approach you have adopted in this particular profession comparable or distinct from such similar cases and why?


    Several features of public interest are protected by the existence of several articles on the Spanish legislation related to geological aspects. The Royal Decree (R.D.) 1837/2008 states that the profession of geologist is a regulated profession, as it was early considered by the Royal Decree 1665/1991 of 25 October. Not only the profession of geologist is a regulated profession, but the geologists exert "regulated professional activities" as part of their profession. 

    Article 21 of R.D. 1378/2001 of 7 December lists the professional geologist's functions in a wide range of professional activities, whose practice is regulated by laws and regulations. Some laws and regulatory standards imply that geologist's professional activities are regulated professional activities. Such regulated activities are related to the existence of public interests worthy of protection and control with compulsory membership, and, on the other hand these activities are not exclusive to geologists but shared with other professionals such as engineers and other science graduates.

    Further regulations include: Geological and mining exploration (paragraph 9 of article 21 of the RD 1378 / 2001), Environmental impact studies (paragraph 15 of the RD 1378 / 2001), Identification and demarcation of the public hydraulic domain and the marine- terrestrial domain (paragraph 26 RD 1378 / 2001), Studies in the construction area (paragraphs 29, 30 and 33 RD 1378 / 2001), and Seismic studies for geological characterization (paragraph 34 RD 1378 / 2001).

    7. Please explain in how far the degree of complexity or the nature of the activities
    which are reserved justify that these activities can be exclusively performed by professionals possessing a specific professional qualification?

       For example: when the tasks are essentially of a straightforward nature (such as preparing and printing pay slips etc.), or involve essentially the execution of instructions, specific professional aptitudes should not be required.


    Understanding Geology, with concepts as “deep time” is very exclusive, and even brings to a very special point of view about Earth, time and life. Most professionals, even other scientists, do not understand well these concepts and most people do not understand clearly geology and it´s whereabouts. Only professionals with specific competence, gained after studies at a university level, can deal with complex subjects, such as: Mineralogy; Petrology; Geochemistry; Stratigraphy; Historical and Structural Geology, Environmental, Engineering and Economic Geology; Geophysics; Geomorphology; Paleontology; Hydrogeology; Mining Geology; Energy Resources; Building materials and Marine Geology. As a compilation of the geology of an area, geological maps can only be made or fully understood by geologists, engineering geologists and mining engineers. These maps can be used in the search for natural resources. Other maps derived from geological map (thematic maps) can also be used to prevent the effects of natural hazards (floods, landslides, earthquake risk zonation, volcanoes,…) on citizens and goods, as well as to study water, ground water and soil pollution (oil spills, radioactive waste), and marine and coastal conservation.

    On the other hand, entrepreneurial activity involving geological knowledge could, if performed by unqualified persons, endanger human life and health, and damage the environment.

    8. Where you have indicated several measures in place in the screening tab,
    have you reviewed the cumulative effect of all these measures on professional activities?

       If not, why not?
       If yes, please outline for us how you approached assessing this issue as well as the results and conclusions or any learning you drew from this. Where possible please include evidence.


    Yes, we have reviewed the effects during the legislative process to implement in Spain Directive 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on services in the internal market, by the Spanish Acts 17/2009 and 25/2009.

    Cumulative effects satisfy the criteria of non-discrimination, necessity and proportionality.

    The reserved activities require to acquire knowledge with higher geological education degrees such as “Licenciado en Ciencias Geológicas” (BsC Geology) or the new Bologna adapted “Grado en Geología” (Geology Grade), this according to the principle established by the Spanish Supreme Court that professional competence should match freedom of practice. Geologists do not have full reserves of competences in all activities, but share some of them with Mining Engineers, Civil Engineers, Geological Engineers and some other neighboring professions. Registration in the Spanish Official Professional Association of Geologists (ICOG) ensures that geologists are subjected to a professional code of conduct and to the possibility of public disciplinary proceedings, and, if deserved, to the appropriate penalties.

    9. Have you considered the use of alternative mechanisms to achieve your objective(s)?
    • Reduce the scope of reserved activities
    • Open certain reserved activities to neighbouring professions
    • Other, please specify

       Please briefly explain. Where you have selected more than one option, please be sure to address each of these in your response.


    Art. 21 of R.D. 1378 / 2001 of 7 December list professional geologists functions in a wide range of professional activities. Most of these are not exclusively reserved, only those described in article 117 of the Law 22/1973 of July 21, of Mines, are reserved but shared with Mining Engineers and others. The Spanish Official Professional Association of Geologists (ICOG) thinks that, it is adequate to reduce most professional activities exclusively reserved to certain professionals, but the number of activities shared by different professionals should also be increased, to assure professional skills when a professional qualification is required. Currently geologists in Spain can voluntarily register and certify a project in ICOG, and in doing so, the project automatically receives a liability insurance covering the professional practice. To enhance the protection of citizens, goods and creditors, certification of buildings and constructions, geotechnical projects should not be voluntary as it is now the case, but compulsory and ICOG is requiring so to the Spanish national authorities.

    More relevance should also be given to the existing professional title of European Geologist awarded by the European Federation of Geologists (EFG – http://www.eurogeologists, which certifies that the holder has achieved suitable academic training and a level of professional experience, skill and competence to perform professional tasks within his field of experience.

    10. Conclusion

       Following your internal examination of this regulated profession, which of the following have you concluded?

    •    Improve current system (simplify guidance, remove burdensome aspects etc.)

       Explain where relevant:


    Current reserved professional activities of several professions should be shared to improve competition among professionals for the benefit of citizens, businesses and costs. The legislation governing the activity in question has already been reassessed and amended several times in the Trade Licensing Act but frequent changes to the requirements governing business destabilize the business environment and hamper enterprise development. In order to protect the various aspects of the public interest (particularly work safety, protection of human life and public health, protection of consumers’ rights and environmental protection), we consider the current regulation, which is intended to assure that a particular activity is performed only by professionally qualified persons, as necessary and entirely appropriate, but such activities, in spite of being reserved to a sole profession could be shared by neighboring qualified professional collectives. 
    According to these principles the Spanish Official Professional Association of Geologists changed its regulations in 2001 to allow Engineering Geologists resulting from the new degree in the domain of the Geology and Civil Engineering created in Spain in 2000, to become members of the ICOG. The activities which could be shared are described in the Mining Law 22/1973 of July 21, the Building Code (RD 314/2006), Mining Safety general regulations (RD 863/1985) and Complementary Technical Instructions on water and geothermal projects.

    11. Any other comments?

    1.- Geologists develop professional activities of special public interest which might affect the safety of people and goods, among other, geological and natural hazards studies, geotechnical studies, environmental impact assessments, mining exploration and exploitation, research and exploitation of underground water resources and activities in the realm of National defense.

    2.- In view of the relevance of the activities carried out by geologists for the sake of citizens, the practice of geology is a regulated profession according to that established in the RD 1837/2008 of 8th November (transposing Directive 2005/36/CE, of the European Parliament and the Council of 7th September 2005, and the Directive 2006/100/CE, of the Council of 20th November 2006) on the recognition of professional qualifications which includes the professionals of geology in its Annex VIII. 

    3.- Article 12 part 9 of RD 43/2015, of 2nd February, modifying RD 1393/2007, of 29th October, on the oficial university studies, establishes ”When an academic title empowers for regulated professional practice in Spain, the Government will establish the conditions the academic studies plans should fulfil which should also be adapted to the applicable European norms. Such plans should be designed, in any event, so as to allow obtaining the necessary competences to practice the profession" In spite of this legal mandate, the Government of Spain has not yet promulgated the RD to fulfil the above requirements for all the regulated professions.

    4.- Geological professional practice is widely regulated by laws and regulations in Spain, due to the existence of public interests that should be protected by controlling this regulated profession and compulsory registration in the Spanish Official Professional Association of Geologists.

    5.- Regulated profession and compulsory registration of geologists overcomes the communitarian test, based in non-discrimination criteria, necessity, proportionality and non-substitution.

    6.- Regulated profession and compulsory registration in the ICOG is necessary to avoid negative repercussions for the safety of people and goods, in the resilience and prevention of natural hazards and in the safety of construction and buildings. This has also a Spanish Constitutional support as geologist are linked to constitutional rights to life and physical integrity (art.15 SC), safety (art.17 SC), and to enjoy an adequate environment for the development of the individuals (art.45.2 & 3 SC), this last related to the right to health (art. 43.1 SC).

    7.- Deontological and disciplinary control cannot be exerted by an entity whose registration is voluntary, as this might mean that there will be no coercive punishment capacity to avoid bad professional practices.
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