Inter-municipal Cooperation and Austerity Policies: Obstacles or Opportunities?
The profound challenges experienced by European countries as a consequence of the fiscal crisis, combined with the increase in the scope, size, and diversity of inter-municipal cooperation (IMC), justify a closer look at whether and how austerity policies have shaped the developments of IMC across different countries. Has IMC become more prevalent in countries affected by the fiscal crisis? Have austerity policies presented obstacles or opportunities for IMC initiatives? We conducted a survey of experts in 11 selected countries, including both countries that were hit hard by the fiscal crisis and implemented extensive austerity policies and countries where IMC is known to be or becoming prevalent. The results of this exploratory analysis indicate that in five of the countries included in our sample (Italy, Portugal, Iceland, the Netherlands, and the UK), IMC has emerged as a solution to deal better with fiscal stress.
The authors would like to thank the country experts for answering the survey questions and Pawel Swianiewicz and Filipe Teles for the careful review and suggestions. This research received funding from the project “SmartEGOV: Harnessing EGOV for Smart Governance (Foundations, methods, Tools) /NORTE-01-0145-FEDER-000037”, supported by Norte Portugal Regional Operational Programme (NORTE 2020), under the PORTUGAL 2020 Partnership Agreement, through the European Regional Development Fund, from the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation (Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia) [Grant n.° PEst-OE/CJP/UI0758/2014], and from the Estonian Research Council Grant PUT-1142.
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