Back to search

DEMOS-Demokratisk og effektiv styring, planlegging og forvaltning

Municipalities in the European Multilevel Union Administration: Towards Multi-Hatted Local Governments?

Alternative title: Kommuner i den flernivå-administrative europeiske unionsadministrasjonen: mot flere-hattede lokalforvaltninger?

Awarded: NOK 9.0 mill.

In recent years, research on how the European Union (EU) impacts its member-states has been particularly preoccupied with describing a vast number of couplings and interrelations that emerge at the intersection between national and supranational decision-making institutions. A rich literature exists that describes how national administrations become embedded into an integrated European administration. where especially those parts of the national bureaucracies that are charged with implementing EU policies develop tight linkages to the EU?s main executive body ? the European Commission. To what extent and, if so, how, the local and regional level of government is being exposed to similar ?coupling-processes? has however been far less studied. Seen in light of the fact that local and regional authorities are responsible for effectuating a number of policies that stem from national adaptations to EU law, it is relevant to ask whether or not also municipal bureaucracies can be seen as part of this emerging integrated European administration. MIMAS focuses on how Norwegian and Swedish municipalities work in relation to the implementation of policies linked to EU-related legislation across two policy-areas ? public procurement and environmental protection ? in order to shed light on this puzzle. Applying perspectives from public law and political science/public administration, the project maps out how EU-related legislation influences organizational questions and work processes at the municipal level. Employing surveys and case-studies among municipal bureaucrats, the project then sheds light on how local administrations become embedded into networks outside and above the territorial nation state. This has implications both the autonomy of local governments but also for how we understand the development of the EU as a transnational multilevel administrative system.

The project deals with current developments in the EU multilevel union administration, in which administrative bodies located across different levels of governance are becoming increasingly interlinked in the implementation and application of EU legislation. A key finding has been that the relevant national actors are becoming "double-hatted", serving both national and supranational principals. Although subnational authorities have been at the center of much research on EU multilevel governance the last decades, the ground-level practices and implications of their embedding into EU multilevel structures are scantly understood, despite the fact that municipalities are increasingly involved in the implementation and practicing of EU legislation. This project aims at developing new knowledge regarding how municipal authorities implement, coordinate and practice EU legislation. It links vertical implementation studies to horizontal impacts by illuminating how European multilevel administration relates to and affects municipal autonomy and local government. Based on a comparative study of municipalities in two countries - Norway and Sweden - and two sectors - public procurement and environmental/climate policy, the project aims to examine to what extent, how and why, municipalities are organized into a multilevel union administration. We ask how they practice EU legislation, how they coordinate betwen municipal, national and EU principals and how the potential embedding into a multilevel union administration impact on local autonomy and the territorial structure and coherence of municipalities, as well as the nation-state. Combining political science and legal perspectives, the project employs both qualitative and quantitative methods in order to elucidate the role and function of municipalities in the EU multilevel administration.

Funding scheme:

DEMOS-Demokratisk og effektiv styring, planlegging og forvaltning