Government to Financially Support Municipality Mergers, Says Vecernji List

By 20 October 2021

ZAGREB, 20 October, 2021 - The reform of local government through functional mergers of municipalities with poor administrative and fiscal capacities is a measure that has been announced for years in different electoral and government programmes, Večernji List newspaper said on Wednesday.

The idea is for several smaller municipalities to combine the work they would have difficulty financing by themselves and manage it from a single shared office. But first it should be seen for which municipalities and which types of work this would be cost-effective, the newspaper said.

For this purpose, the Ministry of Public Administration signed an agreement with the Ministry of European Funds in 2018 to analyse the capacities of the municipalities and the work they do. The project, called "Optimisation of the local and regional self-government system", should have been completed before the end of 2020, but it was not. It received a fresh impetus from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, for which Croatia received an advance payment of HRK 6.14 billion from the EU for reform processes, including those in public administration.

The Ministry of Justice and Public Administration has announced that the public procurement procedure for the implementation of this project will be completed soon.

"A contract with a selected bidder should be signed within no later than a month, and it will then have six months to analyse and draw up a catalogue of jobs in local government," the ministry told Večernji List. The plan is not to analyse the business performance of all 555 local government units but to select a sample of 40 smaller municipalities and see which services they could provide together.

The ministry is expected to finalise guidelines for the merging of local government units based on good practice in the EU before the end of 2023, while the entire system of support to functional mergers should be completed by June 2025, Večernji List said.