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2.1 Managerial and governmental types of local authorities
What is the actual role of an LA? Is it an instrument of central government to implement national policies? An expression of a local political community developing and implementing local policies in response to the demands of the community? Or some combination of both?
The specific nature of the LA has to be recognised!
LAs have a dual mandate to promote development:
- to help national governments localise national policies and programmes by improving their design and the effectiveness, efficiency and equity of their implementation;
- to develop and implement their own local public policies and programmes in response to the demands of local constituencies.
As a consequence, LAs are having:
- Specific competences refer to the specific service delivery and other functions which might be devolved or delegated to LAs by national governments.
- General competence refers to LAs’ responsibility for functions of their own choosing, reflecting a constitutionally or legally recognised general mandate for the welfare of their constituencies.
The new EU vision of LAs as self-governing entities endowed with a general mandated is consistent with the European charter of self-government (Council of Europe, 1985)
- ‘Local Self-Government denotes the right and ability of local authorities, within the ambit of the law, to regulate and manage a substantial share of public affairs under their own responsibility and in the interests of the local population’ (Article 3, par. 1).
- ‘Local authorities shall, within the limits of the law, have full discretion to exercise their initiative with regard to any matter which is not excluded from their competence nor assigned to any other authority’ (Article 4, par. 2).
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