CEPLI Newsletter

CEPLI Newsletter

The European Confederation of Local Intermediate Authorities (CEPLI) was formed in 2008 as a confederation grouping the national associations of local intermediate authorities of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Romania, as well as Arco Latino and Partenalia, both networks of local intermediate authorities.

CEPLI was founded on the notion that “a Europe of Member States can only be built by drawing on the diversity of its territories,” therein lies the need for cooperation of the more than a thousand local intermediate authorities that form CEPLI.

Local intermediate authorities play a key role in connecting local and central governments, thus being essential actors for coordinating and transmitting accurate information between these two levels of government or to bringing closer to the local governments top-down strategies and public policies. In this time of varied and diverse crises, it is clear that these authorities are indispensable.

It is therefore important to understand how local intermediate authorities are structured. In some countries, such as Belgium, Germany, Poland, and France, they are not large entities and are responsible for things such as local transport and infrastructure, zoning, local cultural affairs as well as supralocal services. On the other hand, in countries such as Italy things vary wildly: at the local intermediate level of government coexist provinces and metropolitan cities (the agglomeration of the municipalities of metropolitan areas managed by their mayors) and they each have different powers.

It is also important to state that these are all democratically elected administrations, not state appointed. Some are appointed in direct elections such as in the case of Romania and the urban districts of Germany and Poland, although most of them are indirectly appointed either via elections to a local council or parliament or via municipal elections. The latter is the case of Spain, where local elections also determine the composition of the provincial council, and of some areas of Italy which are administered by a council of local mayors. It is worth mentioning that in the case of France, while the government-appointed Prefect once held considerable power, they are now just the state’s spokesperson in the departmental council and a guarantor of due process. As such, this democratic nature makes local intermediate authorities legitimate representatives of their territories accountable to their populations’ interests and desires, thus allowing them to have their voices heard.

Despite all these differences, it is clear that local intermediate authorities are the best suited to portray the realities on the ground, be it economic difficulties, the effects of climate change, logistical and infrastructure complications or insufficiencies, or dangers to public health. This is because they interact directly and closely with the representatives of those living this reality, who often can barely make their voices heard in the halls of power. It is the local intermediate authorities’ responsibility to communicate and understand these realities and they are the best suited organizations to help local governments while adequately implementing the changes envisioned by the regional, national or EU capitals. In other words, local intermediate governments are a key pillar for the proper functioning of multi-level governance and for effectively dealing with the challenges entailed by the current crises that all levels of governments will have to deal with.

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