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Simplification of Local Administration. Levels and dimensions

La simplification de l'administration locale. Niveaux et dimensions

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Published on Thursday, October 09, 2014


OLA (Observatory on Local Autonomy), a European network specialised in research on the organisation and management of local public services in Europe, is organising a symposium on “The Impact of the Economic Crisis on Local Administration and Public Services in Europe”, which will take place on the 30th and 31st of October 2014 in Bologna, Italy. It is being organised in collaboration with the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR). This two-day symposium will be the opportunity for 150 researchers, elected officials and local civil servants from the 32 European countries that make up the OLA network to come together to find worthwhile, cost-effective, and efficacious solutions to improve and simplify local public administration in Europe.



Thursday 30 October 2014

I/ 1. The Adaptation of Management of Public Services and Activity Management

Chair: Gabriella Racca


  • Denita Cepiku, 
  • Riccardo Mussari,
  • Filippo Giordano,
  • Xavier Volmerange,
  • Riccardo Ursi

Experience Feedback : Luc Martens

I/ 2. Simplification and Local Democracy

Chair: Eija Makinen

Speakers: Deborah Peel,

Experience Feedback :  A representative from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) (to be confirmed)

II/ 3. Simplification –  The Shift in Competences and Powers between Different  Levels of Government

Chair: Angel-Manuel Moreno


  • Magnus Arni Magnusson,
  • Greg Lloyd,
  • Eléanor Breton,

Experience Feedback :  Ina Sjerps

II/ 4. Simplification – The shift of Competences and Powers National Governments and Local and Regional Authorities

Chair: Maria Orlov


  • François Lafarge,
  • Jaroslav Hlinka,
  • Siv Sandberg,

Experience Feedback : Lazaros S. Savvides

III/ 5. Simplification on the  Local Level: Is Joint Administration the Solution? Future Perspecives. Part 1

Chair: Grzegorz Libor


  • Susana Amador,
  • Istvan Balázs,
  • Sladjana Karavdic Kocevic,

Experience Feedback :  Vincent Potier

Friday 31 October 2014

III/ 6. Part 1 Simplification at Local Level: Is Joint Administration the Solution? Future Perspectives


  • Marc Villalta Reixach,
  • Ricardo Gracia Retortillo,
  • Juan Carlos Covilla Martinez,
  • Robert Pyka,
  • Dag Ingvar Jacobsen,

Experience Feedback : Katarina Milanovic

III/ 6. Part 2 Synthesis of the symposium: world café method with CEMR members

Moderators :

  • Dr. Angelika Poth-Mogële,
  • Nathalie Noupadja,
  • Boris Tonhauser,
  • Silvio Iubitu,
  • Walter Leiterman

Conclusion: Forward-looking intervention

7. Lexical workshop: Translation of Legal Terminology in the Domain of Local Government

Moderators : 

  • Istvan Hoffman,
  • Charles Eddy,
  • Olga Burukina


  • Susan Šarčević,
  • Alexandra Matulewska,

8.Round table OLA on the typology of local administration systems in Europe

Moderators : 

  • Ana Rodica Staiculescu,
  • Alina Stan


Session I/ Tendencies of reorganisation after the crisis

After the crisis, we heard a lot about simplification. Two dimensions are fundamental for local government: public services, as this is the mission number one of any public administration, but as well local democracy; this is our argument for promoting local autonomy: it’s the closest level to the citizens. So, the very first workshop gives us some input on the tendencies of reorganisation at the level of the management of public services and activities (Workshop 1) while the second workshop questions, in a more provocative way, the impact of these tendencies on local democracy and the place of the citizen within simplification of local and regional administration (Workshop 2).

Workshop 1. Adaptation of management of public services and activities

This first workshop will be chaired by Professor Gabriella Racca, Italian researcher on issues such as public and collaborative procurement, public-public cooperation, and public spending.

It begins with a preliminary and general reflexion on the pressure local and regional governments are under, between the necessity to ensure public services and to restore fiscal balance, especially after the crisis. What are the tendencies in terms of managerial strategies? Professor Denita Cepiku and her colleaguesRiccardo Mussari and Filippo Giordanowill use comparative research based on 6 Italian case studies to answer the following question: how do local and regional governments cope with austerity?

Professor Riccardo Ursi explains that local governments in Sicily, especially in regions less industrialised and with a limited tertiary sector, have used public employment as a pillar of local autonomy. In this context, the constraints linked to fiscal balance and the necessity to reform public administration have made outsourcing and externalisation the solution to the problem… to a certain extent. This tendency shows now its limits.

One of the answers in Germany is for local governments to take back the power and decision in terms of public services, gradually given to private partners until now. Indeed, privatisation was seen as a sign of modernity. Nowadays however, there is a clear tendency to “re-municipalise” public services, argues Dr. Xavier Volmerange, especially for reasons of free-administration, more active participation from the citizens, and so on.

Finally, Mr Luc Martens, President of the Association of Flemish Cities and Municipalities(Vereniging van VlaamseSteden en Gemeenten- VVSG) and Mayor of Roeselare in Belgium, will sum-up what we have just learned but from the professional and political angle: in this context, how can decision-makers implement political vision through local action? What is the tendency in Flemish municipalities?

Workshop 2.Simplification and local democracy

One of the main arguments advocating for greater local autonomy is that local politicians and local and regional administration are closer to citizens, know better what the need of their community is, and how to answer it. Are the tendencies towards simplification, in response to the crisis, taking this dimension into account? Professor Eija Mäkinen from Finland will chair this workshop as she herself researches on the impact of diminishing public services on human rights and what the legal boundaries are.

Professor Deborah Peel uses the Scottish example to put the emphasis on the fact that some tendencies are a response to national objectives instead of taking into account local priorities. The definition of community planning is recalled, key for multi-level governance. However, some measures can lead to thinning out local administration in an effort to simplify the meeting of national objectives, as the analysis of the Single Outcome Agreement with regards to the National Performance Indicators shows.

This morning ends with the testimony of a member of the board of the Scottish Commission on Strengthening Local Democracy, which is making proposals for reform of local government in Scotland. COSLA is radically challenging the way we think about democracy on the basis of a report published in April 2014; it’s an alternative thinking about the relation between citizens and governments, local and central.

Session II/ The new landscape of local administrations

The second session of this workshop will focus on the new landscape of local administrations in Europe, given the reforms towards “simplification” and shifts of power and repartition of competences. The relations between the central state and the local authorities (Workshop 4) will be discussed but also between the different levels of local authorities (Workshop 3).

Workshop 3. Simplification– shift of competences and powers between levels of local and regional authorities

The knowledge of Professor Angel-Manuel Moreno of the “Rationalisation and Sustainability of Local Government Act” enacted in December 2013 in Spain, and how it touches different aspects of the organisation, the competences and the powers of local government, makes him the ideal candidate for chairing the workshop on how simplification of the repartition of competences and power impacts the relations between local and regional authorities.

Dr. Magnus Arni Magnusson will first draw a snapshot of what is going on in post-crash Iceland and how the project called 2020 – Moving Iceland Forward created 8 regional associations thus establishing a nascent “third-level of government” between the state and the municipalities. The presentation will also touch upon how political changes might influence the landscape of public administrations.

Then Professor Greg Lloyd’s presentation takes us “back to the future” picturing what will be the landscape of the local administration in Northern Ireland after April 2015, in the context of the Review of Public Administration. In particular, 11 new “super councils” will replace the 26 district authorities. Community planning is also a new responsibility and Professor Lloyd’s approach can be compared with what Professor Peel told us about community planning in Scotland.

Thirdly, it will be interesting to put these two examples in relation with what Eléanor Bretonwill tell us. On the basis of the analysis of a “policy contract” scheme set up by a French local government (conseil général) in 2004, in view of rationalising public subsidies allocated to “lower” levels of local government, the presentation shows how budget cutting, rationalisation and simplification can actually shape new political hierarchies and resources.

About political hierarchies and relations between local authorities, the next speaker, Ms Ina Sjerps, the chief executive of the municipality of Apeldoorn and member of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (Vereniging van Nederlandse Gemeenten - VNG) will give us a view on the landscape in the Netherlands and on the decentralisation plans. How decentralisation did affect formal and informal cooperation (networks) between municipalities in the Netherlands?

Workshop 4. Simplification – shift of competences and powers between central state and local and regional authorities

Dr. Maria Orlov from Moldova will get some inspiration when chairing the next workshop as decentralisation reforms in her country are quite mitigated. How is simplification of the repartition of competences and power changing the relations between the central state and local and regional authorities? Are there really profound changes?

Dr. François Lafargewill complete the overview of the French landscape, presenting the renewed organisation of the French territorial state administration, and the profound changes especially on the regional level. Nevertheless, hierarchical lines of command and accountability appear to be paradoxically even strengthened for local and regional authorities, whilst the nationwide State agencies are operating outside these hierarchical lines.

The Slovakian landscape is marked by reforms undertaken because of the crisis; a slippery slope towards greater centralisation, especially in terms of financial issues. Mr Jaroslav Hlinka, mayor of City District Košice-Juh, will present the Law on the Budgetary Accountability and the steps undertaken to overcome this situation by the Association of Towns and Communities of Slovakia (ZMOS), as well as the importance to influence the European level, and the role of CEMR.

The tour of Europe continues with the presentation on Finland by Dr. Siv Sandberg. In 2005, the reform was based on a bottom-up strategy, in 2011, it was rather a top-down one. The original research question is: how do political leaders in Finnish local authorities respond to different kinds of reform strategies? By analysing surveys at different stages for the two reforms, this presentation might be an incentive for other researchers and/or politicians to do the same in their own country.

In Cyprus, a reform is on its way for restructuring and reducing the number of municipalities. Maybe the Union of Cyprus Municipalities could envisage a survey like the Finnish one? The government commissioned researchers for identifying the ideal number of municipalities; as did the Cyprus association. The result is different… How did the negotiation with the government end up? This landscape in mutation is presented by Dr Lazaros S. Savvides, Mayor of Strovolos municipality.

Session III/ The new tools for answering the crisis

This third and last but certainly not least session focuses on the tools used to get out of the crisis, and is more forward-looking. The first workshop puts the emphasis on inter-municipal cooperation and the different ways to merge/ “simplify” services at municipal levels (Workshop 5). The subsequent workshop (number 6) will continue the debate on joint administration at local level, a spicy debate with presentations in favour and/or against, and proposals of new solutions.

Workshop 5. Simplification at local level: is joint administration the solution?

Dr. Grzegorz Libor has a wide experience of the Welsh system and researches on how the crisis was unfavourable not only for the development of Welsh institutions, but also for the Welsh nation. Maybe, by chairing this workshop, he’ll discover potential solutions.

Ms Susana Amador, mayor of Odivelas in Portugal opens the debate with a presentation of the transposition of the European services directive in Portugal into the programme “simplex” and the creation of a common desk for services, a single contact point for employers and citizens. The crisis had a negative impact on this system but Odivelas faced the challenges, especially in the context of creation of metropolitan areas and joint administration mechanisms of local competences.

Dr. Istvan Balázsdepicts the situation in Hungary and how the simplification of the functions of local authorities has led to common desks for more than 70% of them. No big protests accompanied this change, and it is generally seen as a step towards simplification and efficiency. Nevertheless, Professor Istvan Balázs questions this point of view by affirming that this is a false solution that could actually lead to recentralisation.

Ms Sladjana Karavdić Kocevićuses the Serbian situation to exemplify how simplification can lead to efficiency. Not far from what we heard in Portugal, online e-registry of administrative procedures simplifying existing administrative procedures and developing models for a selected procedure are examples where putting the information and methodology in common can have good results. The importance of the business sector as a possible solution out of the crisis is also voiced.

And what do experts from the French National centre of territorial public function think about this? Has inter-communality been an answer to the issues in France? Mr Vincent Potier will give us his point of view from a French perspective, on the basis of the large experience in terms of training for the local and regional public authorities.

Workshop 6. Simplification at local level: is joint administration the solution? Synthesis on what lies ahead

The great particularity of this symposium is to create a dialogue between researchers and practitioners and decision-makers. The scientific European network OLA (Observatory on Local Autonomy) based within the University of Lille 2 brings together experts from the academic world on these issues. But we cannot talk about governance, without the ones governing around the table, can we? This very last workshop anchors even more this perspective as it is organised as a meeting of the Thematic platform on local and regional governments as employers and service providers of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR).

In the first one hour and a half, we’ll continue the debate on the pros and cons of inter-municipalities and what solutions can be found to look forward to. The second part will be an original way to sum-up the previous workshops while gathering the input of political leaders and academia on the main research issues, in order to convert them into advocacy arguments and prospective evolutions of local governance.

The first part begins with the presentation of Professor Marc Villalta Reixachand his colleagues Ricardo Gracia Retortillo and Juan Carlos Covilla Martinez, on Catalonia as a specific example of reordering local powers. It certainly rings a bell when we think of the third workshop on the repartition of competences between local and regional authorities. However, what is mainly at stake here is the encouragement (and not obligation) for inter-municipal cooperation.

This stand is interestingly in contradiction with the one of Professor Dag Ingvar Jacobsen. What is common for Norway and Spain? There is no clear evidence, at first glance, but one of the answers is the diversity of cooperative arrangements municipalities can conclude. In Norway, however, the discussion focuses on efficiency and effectiveness, and concerns are raised about democratic governance.

Dr. Robert Pyka proposes an interesting potential solution. The idea of creating new territorial structures such as metropolitan areas was abandoned in Poland, given their cost. However, larger community- and territory-based structures do seem to be the adequate answer to contemporary complex challenges. Therefore, a new instrument of the European cohesion policy, the Integrated Territorial Investments (ITIs) are foreseen as new processes of organising services and managing the activities of local authorities.

Ms  Katarina Milanović, Deputy Director of OPTIMUS - Center for Good Governance in Serbia, will then comment on these potential solutions and help us answering the following question, based on the Serbian example: are inter-municipal processes, or ITIs, governance tools against the crisis and its effects?

The second part of the workshop will be an original way to sum up what we heard the day before and in the morning, while gathering the input of political leaders. Can we convert the ideas, arguments, examples of reforms, etc., we have just heard, into advocacy and actions? The “World Café” method will be used. Depending on the number of participants, we will divide them into a number of groups and give 10 minutes each to discuss the main ideas of the precedent workshops. Each group will then present its conclusions (5′ each if there are 4 groups for instance).Lastly, the conclusion will be a forward-looking presentation, which will form an integral part of CEMR policy and lobbying work, especially in the field of employment and service provision.

Workshop7. Lexical workshop: translation of legal terminology

The issues relating to translation in Europe, especially of technical and legal documents are not new. The absence of full terminological equivalents in different European languages, the absence and/or difference in concepts in different national legal systems, the divergence of meanings in homonyms and homophones – terms pronounced and written alike – or the polarity of meanings, the imprecise definitions behind legal terms, to name just a few, are important challenges translators and interpreters are facing. In European and international conferences as this one, this issue is even more important. Words are the vehicles of our ideas, how can we share visions, ideas and common understanding, on unstable grounds?

OLA, strongly supported by CEMR, have decided to regularly organise a terminology workshop included in the programme of the conferences. It will be a series of terminology workshops and this one is the very first. Its objective is to begin the reflexion on the main issues and elaborate a glossary, as a starting point.

Then, each workshop will be an occasion to reflect upon and research in terms of concepts and wording, for several (and eventually all) languages in Europe.

Indeed, besides linguistic matters, important issues are to be discussed as legal translators’ rights and freedom in creating new terms, using calques, or explanations, need for terminology standardisation systems, and so on.

The chair of the workshop is Dr. Istvan Hoffman. Given his background in Hungarian national law and European law, and his knowledge in terms of centralisation / decentralisation, his point of view on such a lexical workshop is crucial, and will complete the one of the moderators. Indeed, the two hosts of the workshop are researchers in the field of terminology: Mr Charles Eddy from the Unites States of America, studying in Lille, and Dr. Olga Burukina, from Russia. The first keynote speaker, Professor Susan Šarčević from Croatia will highlight a particularly major problem in legal terminology in the sphere of local authorities. The second keynote speaker, Professor Alexandra Matulewskafrom Poland will highlight the issues linked to legal translators’ rights in particular. The last part of the workshop will use an interactive method in order to jointly prepare a short message with recommendations to relevant actors.

Workshop 8. Round table OLA

Under the chairing of Professor Ana Rodica Staiculescu and Mrs. Alina Stan, PhD in Romania, an exchange will be organised on the elaboration of the methodology that should lead to the publication, in 2016, of a book on the typology of local administration systems in Europe. As an introduction, Professor Ana Rodica Staiculescu and Mrs Alina Stan will present synthesises.



  • Aula Magna - Viale Aldo Moro, 30
    Bologna, Italian Republic


  • Thursday, October 30, 2014
  • Friday, October 31, 2014


  • administration, local, état, région,


  • Line Salmon-Legagneur
    courriel : line [dot] salmon-legagneur [at] univ-lille2 [dot] fr

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Olivier Delabasserue
    courriel : olivier [dot] delabasserue [at] univ-lille2 [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

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« Simplification of Local Administration. Levels and dimensions », Conference, symposium, Calenda, Published on Thursday, October 09, 2014,

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