The future of local self

Report
The Future of Local
Self-Government in Europe
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Sabine Kuhlmann
“The local and regional dimension of
European democracy was born out of
the conviction that the excessive
concentration of power in the national
centers must be counterbalanced by
stronger development of the power
base at the grassroots,
at local and regional level.”
(Keith Whitmore, 2011)
Prof. Dr. Sabine Kuhlmann
2
Structure
 Importance of Local Self-Government in Europe
 Different Local Government Cultures in Europe
 Trajectories of Reform
 The Changing Role of Local Government
 Challenges and Future Prospects
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Sabine Kuhlmann
3
The Importance of Local Self-Government
91,200 municipalities
1,100 second-tier LG
50% of EU-total
public
employment
Ø 16% of
EU-GDP
34% of
EU-public
spending
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Sabine Kuhlmann
4
The Importance of Local Self-Government:
More than service-delivery!
 Participation: opportunity for people to be directly
involved in democratic processes (grass roots democracy)
 Trust: considerably higher in the local/regional authorities
than in national governments (Eurobarometer)
 Stability: local level in Europe important for stabilization/
acceptance of national/supra-national political systems
 Counterbalance: to centralizing tendencies (EUintegration/globalization)
 Reform-Frontrunners: most active level in some
countries (reform pressure; seriously affected by crisis)
 Proximity: Direct contact to the citizens/voters
 But: is there a “one and best way” of LG in Europe?
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Sabine Kuhlmann
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Different Local Government Cultures in Europe
North Middle Europ. Group
(e.g. Germany, Sweden)
Franco Group/
Napoleonic tradition
(e.g. France, Italy, Spain)
Anglo Group
(e.g. UK, Ireland)
Functionally strong
municipalities
Functionally weak
municipalities; strong
territorial state
“Ultra vires”-principle;
functionally strong
municipalities
single purpose model of
locally operating state offices
multi purpose model of
local self-government
Partly separation (Sweden)/
partly integration (Germany)
of state and local government
tasks; weak (Sweden)/
medium (Germany) control
from above
Integration of state and local
government tasks = fused
system; strong control from
above
Separation of state and local
government tasks =
separational system/ dual
polity; weak control from
above
Politically strong,
parliamentary/presidential
Politically strong; powerful
mayors; cumul des mandats
Politically weak, no
community identity/
leadership
multi purpose model of
local self-government
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Sabine Kuhlmann
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Different Local Government Cultures in Europe:
Territorial Variances
 North-European Type: Large-scale units; „big is
beautiful“ (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland,
UK; some German States, e.g. NRW, Hesse)
 South-European Type: Small-scale units; mainly
Napoleonic State tradition (France, Italy, Portugal,
Spain, Greece; some German States, e.g. RhP, SH)
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Sabine Kuhlmann
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Different Local Government Cultures in Europe:
Traditions of Local Service Provision
Tradition of
Tradition of
Local Self-Production
Contracting Out
- Régie; municipal empires;
- Purchaser-Provider-Split;
Stadtwerke; municipalizzate
PPP, model of délégation,
- Germany (except social
concessions, local
services), Sweden,
governance
Italy, UK
-France (big private firms)
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Sabine Kuhlmann
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Trajectories of Reform: similar discourses; different paths
Privatization
Marketization
(NPM)
Managerialism
and Outputoriented Steering
(NPM)
Decentralization/
Regionalization
Territorial
Consolidation
Corporatization/
Formal Privatization
Agencification;
Separation Politics Administration
Federalization/
Regionalization
Municipal Mergers/
Amalgamation
(coercive vs. voluntary)
Asset Privatization/
New Shareholders
Performance
Management,
Benchmarking,
Contract Management
Political/ Administrative
Decentralization
Regional-Scale
Counties/ County
Mergers
Contracting Out/
Functional
Privatization/
Délégation
Public Service
Reforms/ Performance
Related Pay; Flexible
Employment
Conditions
Administrative
De-concentration
Inter-municipal /
Regional Cooperation;
Regional governance
Trajectories of Reform:
Decentralization/De-Concentration



Political Decentralization: Transfer of state tasks
including political decision-making competencies for the
local council (France)  but: units too small
Administrative Decentralization: Transfer of state
tasks without political decision-making competencies for
the local council (Germany)  but: decrease in local
autonomy/reductions in voluntary tasks/privatizations
De-Concentration: Creation of locally operating single
purpose state agencies substituting local governments
(England)  but: more state intervention
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Sabine Kuhlmann
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Persisting Differences:
Proportion of Public Sector Employees by Level (2005)
Municipal
State/Region
National
Special
Sector
Germany
35%
France
30%
53%
Federal 12%
51%
Public Health
System 19.0%
U.K.
56%
16.9%
National Health
Service 26%
Sweden
Italy
83%
13.6%
17%
3.8%
54.7%
Public Health
System 20.3%
Spain
23.6%
49.9%
22.5%
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Sabine Kuhlmann
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Trajectories of Reform: Territorial Consolidation
North-European
Reform Type
South-European
Reform Type
“Up-Scaling”; Mergers
Enforcement of mergers
through binding legislation
Subordination of municipality
under parliamentary
decision-making authority
Objective: Performance
improvements; efficiency,
effectiveness, productivity
UK, S, DK, German states
(NRW, HE)
Small-scale municipal
structures preserved; further
fragmentation
Principle of Voluntariness:
Mergers only with consent of
municipalities
Inter-municipal formations as
instead of mergers
Massive local resistance to
territorial reform
F, I, many CEE countries;
German states (RhP, SH)
Ø Inhabitants
per
municipality
Ø km²
%
municipalities
< 5,000 PT
%
municipalities
> 100,000 PT
Czech Rep.
1,640
13
96
5
France
1,720
15
95
37
Hungary
3,170
29
91
9
Spain
5,430
62
85
58
Estonia
5,930
199
80
2
Germany
6,690
29
77
81
Italy
7,270
37
71
43
Greece
10,750
128
53
8
Finland
12,660
813
52
6
Poland
15,390
126
25
39
Bulgaria
29,090
420
11
11
Sweden
31,310
1,552
4
13
Denmark
55,480
440
3
6
Lithuania
56,570
1,088
2
5
139,480
562
Not relevant
68
5,410
47
82*
500
Country
UK
EU27
The Changing Role of Local Government in Europe:
Trends towards Strengthening
 Functional dimension: de-centralization, transfer of state
tasks = upgrading of LGs functional profile; more decisionmaking competencies of local councils (political de-centr.)
 Political dimension: introduction of participatory
elements, direct democracy, citizen involvement,
consultations
 Territorial dimension: up-scaling of LG-boundaries,
territorial consolidation (amalgamation/cooperation), more
viable LG-structures
 Administrative dimension: citizen and costumer-oriented
administrative structures/procedures; performance
improvements, competition/benchmarking (NPM)
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Sabine Kuhlmann
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The Changing Role of Local Government in Europe:
Trends towards Weakening
 Functional dimension: over-burdening of LGs/losses in
autonomy due to excessive devolution of state tasks;
hollowing out through (NPM/EU-triggered) privatization
 Political dimension: strengthening of local executives
(direct election) to the disfavour of the council; weakening
of the council due to contracting-out/privatization
 Territorial dimension: Growing institutional thickness
through new “inter-municipal” levels, regional bodies,
cooperation structures (e.g. France, Italy); transaction costs
 Administrative dimension: negative effects of NPM
(steering deficits; fragmentation; decreasing staff
motivation; increasing state intervention, e.g. UK)
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Sabine Kuhlmann
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Challenges and Future Prospects:
Task Portfolio
 Challenges:
• Increasing functional responsibilities; partly without equivalent
(political) decision-making competencies (e.g. Germany) =
“false de-centralization”
• More tasks with supra-local impacts (environment, pollution control)
• Increasingly interconnected tasks; cross-cutting policies
 Requirements for the future:
• Emphasis on political decentralization – including the council (see
Sweden, France) instead of only administrative decentr. (Germany)
• Supra-local tasks cannot solely be discharged by local authorities
(bad experiences in Germany)  not all tasks transferrable
• Strengthening cross-policies-coordination in the territory  principle
of “territoriality” (instead of only “functionality”)
• Strengthening the territorial basis for viable LGs (consolidation)
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Sabine Kuhlmann
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Challenges and Future Prospects:
Local Finances/Resources
 Challenges:
• Increased demands to cope with fiscal constraints (financial crisis 
particularly South European LGs affected; Germany, too, debt brake)
• More tasks, less resources (e.g. LG-staff cutbacks in Germany by 1/3
since 1990  decreasing quality of service delivery?)
 Requirements for the future:
• Solid resource basis for local task fulfilment + noticeable fiscal
autonomy as core requirement for viable local self-government
• Critical review of re-centralization tendencies, e.g. UK: % of local
taxes: 80  40  14 (Thatcher)  22 (Blair)  Coalition Gov.?
• Learning from good practices, e.g. Sweden (70% local taxes);
increased proportion also in France (60%)
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Sabine Kuhlmann
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Challenges and Future Prospects:
Democratic Participation/Political Accountability
 Challenges:
• Increasing disenchantment with politics/representative democracy
(decreasing turnouts/party memberships)
• Increasing demands of local electorate to be (directly) involved in
decision-making processes (engagement in interest groups etc.)
• Strengthened political accountability of the directly elected mayor
(partly also recall possible)  too much mayoral powers? (France)
 Requirements for the future:
• Finding instruments/procedures to continuously include various local
interests into decision-making processes
• Participation management in LG; avoid participation overkill (France)
• Implementation of results; take participation results seriously in
political decision-making processes (although not legally binding)
• More direct democracy (local referenda etc.; exp. of Germany)
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Sabine Kuhlmann
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Challenges and Future Prospects:
Europeanization/EU-Policy-Making
 Challenges:
• Centralizing effects of EU-integration
• LG involvement in EU-decision-making considered inadequate
• EU-regulation as a burden for local policy implementation;
bureaucratization; overburdening of the local level
• EU-liberalization policies as a danger for traditionally protected local
markets (e.g. German “Stadtwerke”)
 Requirements for the future:
• Enhancing local EU-competencies (internal organization, staff
qualification; EU-Lobbying; inter-local cross border cooperation etc.)
• Further strengthening of local self-government as a fundamental
basis of EU-integration and in EU-law (see Lisbon treaty)
• Watching over the compliance with the subsidiarity principle in
Europe to guarantee task fulfilment at the best suited level
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Sabine Kuhlmann
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“The Union shall respect the equality of Member
States before the Treaties as well as their national
identities, inherent in their fundamental structures,
political and constitutional, inclusive of regional
and local self-government (…).”
(Art- 3a sec. 2, Treaty of Lisbon 2009)
„The Union’s blindness regarding local selfgovernment has come to an end
since the Lisbon-Treaty.“
(Articus; Chief Executive of the German Cities‘ Assoc.; 2009)
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Sabine Kuhlmann
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Thank you for your attention!
Prof. Dr. Sabine Kuhlmann
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