Chapter 5 – Local Government Collaboration

Title 3 – Local Authorities

Chapter 4 – The Municipality

Chapter 5 – Cooperation between local authorities

Section 1 – Horizontal collaboration between local authorities

Collaboration between departments and between regions

Horizontal collaboration corresponds to dialogue between different communities at the same level.

Thus, the law of February 6, 1992, establishes the possibility of interregional agreements. The regions must be adjacent, and it is possible to join only one agreement.

Interdepartmental agreements also exist, established by the law of 9 January 1930. The departments, unlike the regions, are not required to be adjacent.

These two agreement bodies are public establishments.

The departments can also dialogue through interdepartmental conferences (law of 1871), but these conferences have no decision-making power.

Collaboration between municipalities

To overcome the problem of too many communes, communes can group together in what is called inter-communal groupings. This trend was encouraged by the law of 16 July 1971, and a commission created by the law of 6 February 1992 is responsible for developing these inter-municipal groupings. The law of 12 July 1999 established the community of agglomerations.

This trend towards inter-municipality has been accompanied by abuses denounced by the Cour des Comptes in 2005, notably financial abuses and the exclusion of certain communes.

The communes can also collaborate within:

  • Syndicates of communes: syndicates with a single vocation (the majority) or with a multiple vocation (a minority). These are public institutions.
  • Urban communities (law of 31 December 1966), which are public establishments with their own bodies, and have at least 500,000 inhabitants.
  • Communities of communes (law of February 6, 1992), set up by a prefectural decree at the request of 2/3 of the communes concerned, and on condition that they represent a significant proportion of the population.
  • Communities of agglomerations (law of July 12, 1999), which group at least 50,000 inhabitants around a center.

Municipalities can also merge. This development is governed by the law of 16 December 2010.

Section 2 – Vertical Collaboration of Communities

Local authorities and, more generally, public establishments may collaborate vertically, i.e. at all levels. There are thus:

  • mixed unions (decree of May 20, 1955): subject to authorization by the Minister of the Interior, they bring together various public establishments
  • departmental agencies (law of March 2, 1982): public establishments that bring together a department, a municipality, or an intermunicipal public establishment,

Local authorities may also collaborate with local authorities in another country, in accordance with the conditions laid down in the law of 6 February 1992.

The law of December 16, 2010, requires the realization of“schemes of mutualization of services,” to encourage the mutualization of means and personnel of communities.

Under the presidency of Hollande, laws are being studied to transform the territorial map, in particular through the concept of metropolis. Ten metropolises were created on January1, 2015 with the aim of decentralization, giving territories increased competencies. The Metropolis of Lyon, created on January1, 2015, has a special status, and becomes a unique territorial authority.

→ Chapter 6 – The case of the three cities of Paris, Lyon and Marseille

→ Lesson Sheets – Administrative organization