What are the different possible legislative contexts for IMC?

From Municipal Cooperation

Understanding IMC
When is IMC relevant?
What are the different areas of IMC?
What are the benefits of IMC?
How many municipal functions can be performed under IMC?
How many municipalities can be involved in IMC?
What are the different possible legislative contexts for IMC?
What are the most common legal forms of IMC in Western Europe?
How is IMC financed?
What are the potential negative side effects of IMC?

The legal forms taken by IMC in different countries depend on their specific national legislation. Legislation varies widely between and also within countries. In some countries, IMC is legally allowed but not regulated, in which case the legal framework for IMC is private law (Box 2, which outlines the different possible legislative contexts IMC). Other countries such as France, Spain and Portugal have developed a specific legislative framework for IMC that shapes its forms. In federal states such as Germany and Switzerland, each land or canton respectively has its own legislation, which impacts on the forms of IMC. However, in all countries where IMC is regulated, it can also take place under private law, and it is up to the municipalities to decide under which legal framework to establish it.

Box 2: Different possible legislative contexts for IMC

  • The law explicitly prohibits IMC.
  • The law says nothing about IMC but does not prohibit it, i.e. IMC can be established under private law.
  • The law on local self-government allows IMC; it may be specific, describing the forms of IMC and the rules of operation, or non-specific, in which case the private law could apply.
  • The law on local self-government allows the creation of IMC and an additional specific law on IMC regulates in detail the creation and operation of IMC, which does not necessarily exclude private law from applying.

Box 3 provides an illustration of the Italian public law IMC legal forms as envisaged in the 1999 Local Government Act.

Box 3: The Italian public law IMC legal forms

The IMC legal forms regulated by the 1999 Local Government Act include:
  • Joint management of functions by means of conventions: This form does not give rise to a new local body. Its main aim is to achieve scale economies and integrate the activities by adopting two different methods (which can coexist in the same partnership): the transfer of staff and the delegation of functions to one of the local governments involved.
  • Association: This public law body has full operative capacity for all delegated local government functions. It respects the autonomy of local governments since its institutional organization is not dictated by the legislator but by political decisions made by the bodies themselves. The association has the power to freely regulate its own organization, the execution of assigned functions, and also financial relations between the partner municipalities.
  • Mountain community: The mountain community has the task of serving the mountainous areas, carrying out joint services and functions. Traditionally, it has aimed at the programming and implementation of policies in a specified area.
Source: Elena Zuffada and Eugenio Caperchione (2003)