The city of Barcelona's food markets remodelling process

From EPSA - European Public Sector Award

Award nominee

Through its food markets, Barcelona has preserved a commerce ‘of proximity’, run by small entrepreneurs who place value on purchasing healthy foods, assisted by skilled professionals, linked to their neighbourhood, and who are always encouraged to implement innovative trends and sustainability in the food sector. This allows markets to act as a driving force for the rest of the trade sector in the city in several ways: faster adaptation to SME regulations, better implementation of labelling processes, introduction of products and innovative food concepts, providing new services and increasing recycling etc. To manage this whole process, the Barcelona Institute of Markets was created. Markets have thus not only a new public dimension, but they also play a crucial role as promoters of social dialogue. Additionally, reforming such institutions is agreed by public consultation, thus ensuring both a high degree of public acceptance and cohesion in the neighbourhood.

In this sense, the process of dialogue and consensus that generates market reform includes citizens (neighbours, neighbourhood associations, the district mayor), as well as the private sector:

  • Citizens are involved throughout the process either directly or indirectly in its different phases. People have understood the reform or creation of new markets as an essential public facility that improves the quality of life of the neighbourhood, upgrades its environment, improving accessibility and diversifying the commercial network. This understanding by the people is shown through the public service surveys of the city council of Barcelona, where the scores given each year have shown repeatedly that this service is the best service provided by the city after the libraries.
  • The private sector comes into play in two different dimensions: traders (those working within the market and those established around the market) and new entrants. Their input is essential; the system of long-term public concessions obtained by the sellers through private competition ensures traders the profitability of their investment in the remodelling process. This system allows them to finance between 40 and 50% of the cost of market reform, thus ensuring greater commercial viability of its operation after the reform.

But restructuring not only affects the trade sector of the city, but also the city planning, the environment and public health. Therefore, a close partnership between different public sectors is required throughout the process. As such, this is a clear case of a new way of working together, contributing tangibly to the objectives of service delivery.

This model of managing renovation or new construction has enabled Barcelona to keep, consolidate and improve the network of markets. Moreover, this has been done with large-scale public sector involvement and a wide public acceptance. This innovative reform process led by the public sector in cooperation with the private sector, and the specific mechanisms that articulate the dialogue throughout the process, are the specific good practices presented in this award.

Award info
Award category: opening up the public sector
Award type: nominee
Award year: 2011
Project type
Sector: Economic affairs, competition, SME
Type of activity:
Keywords: City’s markets remodelling, partnership, co-decision process
Short English description: This model of managing renovation or new construction has enabled Barcelona to keep, consolidate and improve the network of markets.
Further information
Organisation: Barcelona Markets Municipal Institute
Other applicants:
Level of government: local level
Size of organisation: 25-50
Number of people involved: 11-15
Country: Spain
EU membership: EU member
Language code: en
Start date:
End date:

The city of Barcelona's food markets remodelling process (41.3977365, 2.2015347)
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