The Court of Auditors calls for a revival of decentralization


At a time when Emmanuel Macron is studying a reform of the institutions, the annual…

The Court of Auditors calls for a revival of decentralization

The Court of Auditors calls for a revival of decentralization

At a time when Emmanuel Macron is studying a reform of the institutions, the annual report of the Court of Auditors published this Thursday will be able to feed his reflection. Essentially devoted to decentralization, it considers that a “momentum [est] to be found” in this matter. Taking stock of forty years of decentralization since the major Defferre laws of 1982 and 1983, the Court considers that this “has not been completed”. “A satisfactory balance between the competences of the State and the different levels of communities has not yet been found”, she writes.

If the reforms followed one another since 2010 (Maptam law of modernization of the territorial public action and affirmation of the metropolises, redistricting of the regions, law NOTRé came to clarify the competences of the various layers of the territorial millefeuille and to reinforce the intermunicipalities, law 3DS, etc.), decentralization would not have “really progressed” for all that. “It is clear that a new stage of decentralization is desirable”, write the financial magistrates. They believe, for example, that the distribution of economic development powers “can be further simplified and this policy better coordinated by the regions”.

Neither “big night” nor “small steps”

But no question, according to them, “of a great evening” or “of the pursuit of small steps”. Obviously demanding more decentralization or “a great law of local freedoms”, as the Association of Mayors of France (AMF), local authorities do not want a new institutional “big bang”. But “a grooming of decentralization, via new transfers of skills without the means to exercise them, is not desirable”, also warns the Association of small towns in France in its response to the report.

It is rather a “gradual revival” of decentralization which must take place, according to the Court, with a “reorganization of the territorial organization which should concern both local authorities and the State”. In its response, the AMF also stresses that “decentralization goes hand in hand with deconcentration”, sharing the observation of a “need for the State in the territories”.

Among its recommendations, the report suggests in particular “deepening and simplifying inter-municipal cooperation”. This would involve the establishment of formalized and objective criteria to define the community interest, which allows elected officials to set for a given competence what is transferred to the intermunicipal authority and what remains the responsibility of the municipality. But such a legislative framework is not favored by the Prime Minister. With regard to public policies involving a large number of players, the Court recommends strengthening the role of local authorities acting as leaders.

Another strong recommendation: for the Court of Auditors, it would be appropriate to “better use” the possibilities of territorial differentiation and experimentation, which have recently been reinforced by law. “The President of the Republic stressed the importance of differentiation and proximity to build real decentralization”, does not fail to underline the Prime Minister, in her response.

While Emmanuel Macron promised “a new chapter of decentralization” , the government began discussions in mid-February with local authorities on housing policy. The Head of State is due to receive the main associations of elected officials on Monday, who hope to learn more about the reform of the institutions he is considering. Especially since Stéphane Séjourné, the boss of Renaissance, the presidential party, had caused a stir at the start of the year by declaring himself in favor of the end of the large regions created in 2015.

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