Step 13 – Ensure continuous and effective communication

From Municipal Cooperation

Establishing IMC
PHASE 1: Initiating cooperation
PHASE 2: Establishing cooperation
PHASE 3: Implementing IMC
PHASE 4: Evaluating IMC

The services provided under IMC, irrespective of the legal form of cooperation (private or public law), are still public services, which must be run with the same consideration for democracy, citizens’ interests and value for money.

IMC requires special communication efforts to ensure transparency and accountability since it is particularly prone to mistrust.

The reasons are as follows:

  • IMC managers do not bear the same direct political accountability towards the population as in municipalities where the mayor and the municipal council are well known by the electors.
  • Political antagonism and/or competition between municipalities sometimes persist despite the existence of IMC.
  • Fear often persists that resources are spent mostly to the advantage of the other partners.
  • Control over IMC is particularly complicated because of the multiple actors involved, namely the municipalities themselves, the state authorities (administration, National Audit Office) and, of course, the citizens or the consumers of the specific IMC services who can refer to courts or other state authorities such as the ombudsman.

Communication efforts of the municipalities should aim at building trust and confidence among cooperating partners and citizens.

These efforts should essentially target three groups:

  1. the administrations of the partner municipalities;
  2. the municipal council of the partner municipalities;
  3. the local community, including citizens, civil society organizations and the private sector.

All the partners involved must feel that they are kept up-to-date on what and how IMC is doing in general and how this benefits each municipal partner. Many IMC initiatives fail due to poor communication. Newsletters, well-documented budgets, minutes of meetings and regular reports by municipal representatives are all good ways to communicate. It is best to use more than one method of communication so that messages are reinforced. Regular reports from municipal representatives are very important, but should not be relied on as the sole means of communication.