Administrative reform in Estonia – decreasing voluntary amalgamations

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The newspaper “Postimees” (20.04.2015) has published an article by Rivo Noorkõiv and Mikk Lõhmus on the topic of “Administrative reform in Estonia – decreasing voluntary amalgamations”. The authors argue that systematic changes in Estonia’s administrative system and solutions to contemporary problems faced by local governments do not arise from voluntary amalgamations based on the enthusiasm of local government leaders. The new administrative order should better focus on services for the local citizens – to provide the local inhabitants with the best available services while using one’s resources reasonably. It is important to agree on and validate the obligatory local government activity sectors. Therewith it is possible

to define a list and description of services with recommended measurements, which can be used to support the local growth potential and hence development. This approach also helps to determine the competences and working places of civil servants for the implementation of necessary tasks and leaves the concrete decisions to the local governments, offering the opportunity to find solutions to local problems in the best possible way. Only then can we discover on which scale of unification these activities are at their optimum. Therefore, one of the central topics for the administrative reform is the distribution of functions between the central and the local governments, as well as their implementation and funding. The second dimension of the reform is connected to the question of democracy and the operation of the local administration. A functioning and effective local democracy can ensure a capable and successfully acting local government. It is not possible to offer uniform solutions as every community has their borders and local identity and the new administrative order has to respect them. The newly elected parliament has to face a very fundamental decision: do you take the direction to systematic change, strong and well-performing communities as well as towards the formation of a democratic local government system or do you stop at the well-trodden paths which means to centralize the progressing state and to minimize the local decision rights and democracy? The latter, in the authors opinion, is the apparent dead end. For further information, see “Postimees”:

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