The idea of creating a Spanish Association of Regional Science emerged in the late 1950s and was maintained throughout the 1960s, although the first attempts to formalize its legal constitution were systematically rejected by the authorities of the time. Nevertheless, there remained a nucleus of positive action which laid the foundations for the work of a large group of Spanish researchers involved in publishing, meetings with Spanish and foreign specialists, university research, and professional activities in private firms and the public administration. Their combined efforts facilitated the development of research areas that came to form part of the discipline of regional science.
In December 1973, the Research Department of Banco Urquijo in Barcelona organized a general meeting of research departments that, thanks to the subject matter discussed and the consensus reached between those attending, became the First Regional Studies Meeting, witnessing the decision to create the AECR. This was followed by the Second Regional Studies Meeting, held in the Canary Islands on 2–6 May 1975, which saw the approval of a draft paper on regional issues in Spain that reflected the opinions of the future members of the AECR.
The AECR obtained legal status on 19 April 1976, having finally overcome a series of political and administrative difficulties. The first general assembly of the AECR was held in Oviedo during the Third Regional Studies Meeting and was attended by 164 founding members.