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Central-local relations in Flanders: structural reforms, scale and decentralisation

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Abstract
Since the summer of 2014 Flanders has a new regional government. That government announced in it’s policy declaration a renewal of the so called central-local relations. In reality this means that the emphasis is placed on a strong central government (Flanders) and on strong local governments at the other (local) side of the spectrum. All forms of intermediate government (provinces or forms of intermunicipal cooperation) come under pressure. In it’s effort to strengthen the local government level, the Flemish government introduces several instruments, among them the stimulation of voluntary amalgamations, a reduction of the supervision on municipalities and a decentralization of competences towards the local level. This decentralization is clearly linked to a scale reform. First the government wants stronger (and larger) municipalities by way of voluntary amalgamations. Once this is realized, municipalities can receive additional competences. By doing so, the current government builds further on the main policies of the previous Flemish government. This search for optimal governmental relations is not a new phenomenon. Different governments in the last two decades did efforts to reach new intergovernmental relations. Some of these efforts succeeded, but others failed. In this contribution we want to give an overview of these different efforts and policies and the reasons why they succeeded or failed. We will do that by placing the current policy in a wider perspective by comparing it with previous plans of former governments and by comparing it with some experiences abroad. In this way we hope to deliver a valuable contribution to the central theme of this conference.
Keywords
Local government reform, decentralisation, scale

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Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
De Ceuninck, Koenraad, and Herwig Reynaert. 2016. “Central-local Relations in Flanders: Structural Reforms, Scale and Decentralisation.” Croatian and Comparative Public Administration 16 (1): 5–30.
APA
De Ceuninck, K., & Reynaert, H. (2016). Central-local relations in Flanders: structural reforms, scale and decentralisation. CROATIAN AND COMPARATIVE PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION, 16(1), 5–30.
Vancouver
1.
De Ceuninck K, Reynaert H. Central-local relations in Flanders: structural reforms, scale and decentralisation. CROATIAN AND COMPARATIVE PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION. Zagreb: Institute of Public Administration; 2016;16(1):5–30.
MLA
De Ceuninck, Koenraad, and Herwig Reynaert. “Central-local Relations in Flanders: Structural Reforms, Scale and Decentralisation.” CROATIAN AND COMPARATIVE PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION 16.1 (2016): 5–30. Print.
@article{7775001,
  abstract     = {Since the summer of 2014 Flanders has a new regional government. That government announced in it{\textquoteright}s policy declaration a renewal of the so called central-local relations. In reality this means that the emphasis is placed on a strong central government (Flanders) and on strong local governments at the other (local) side of the spectrum. All forms of intermediate government (provinces or forms of intermunicipal cooperation) come under pressure. In it{\textquoteright}s effort to strengthen the local government level, the Flemish government introduces several instruments, among them the stimulation of voluntary amalgamations, a reduction of the supervision on municipalities and a decentralization of competences towards the local level. This decentralization is clearly linked to a scale reform. First the government wants stronger (and larger) municipalities by way of voluntary amalgamations. Once this is realized, municipalities can receive additional competences.

By doing so, the current government builds further on the main policies of the previous Flemish government. This search for optimal governmental relations is not a new phenomenon. Different governments in the last two decades did efforts to reach new intergovernmental relations. Some of these efforts succeeded, but others failed.

In this contribution we want to give an overview of these different efforts and policies and the reasons why they succeeded or failed. We will do that by placing the current policy in a wider perspective by comparing it with previous plans of former governments and by comparing it  with some experiences abroad. In this way we hope to deliver a valuable contribution to the central theme of this conference.},
  author       = {De Ceuninck, Koenraad and Reynaert, Herwig},
  issn         = {1848-0357},
  journal      = {CROATIAN AND COMPARATIVE PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION},
  keyword      = {Local government reform,decentralisation,scale},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {5--30},
  publisher    = {Institute of Public Administration},
  title        = {Central-local relations in Flanders: structural reforms, scale and decentralisation},
  volume       = {16},
  year         = {2016},
}