SIGMA Papers

SIGMA (Support for Improvement in Governance and Management) is a joint initiative of the OECD and the EU, principally financed by the EU. SIGMA Papers is a series of specialised reports that are focused on particular issues in governance and management, such as expenditure control, administrative oversight, interministerial co-ordination, public procurement and public service management.

Available in French (see link below) and other languages.

English Also available in: French

Inter-municipal co-operation in the Western Balkans

Inter-municipal co-operation (IMC) has proved to be a constructive and efficient instrument in many EU and OECD countries for solving several issues at the local government level, including the lack of resources, administrative fragmentation, the investment burden of individual municipalities or better and more efficient organisation of public service provision. Although IMC is still often thought of as an alternative to the politically sensitive merging of small municipalities, nowadays its use has raised the interest of public administrations whose local governments are medium- and large-sized and that see this instrument as a way to empower local governments, provide them with more responsibilities, ensure sustainability of public services and fuel planning capacities and strategic thinking at the local and regional level. This paper summarises examples from EU and OECD countries where IMC either has a long-standing history or has recently received increased support and attention. It also provides an analysis of the legislative basis, support and incentives and practical data of IMC in the Western Balkan administrations. The paper offers several recommendations specific to the Western Balkan administrations for how to benefit from IMC.


Keywords: local government financing, Western Balkan administrations, local governments, cross-border co-operation, public administration, local government autonomy, multi-level governance, Western Balkan local governments, territorial fragmentation, inter-municipal co-operation, economies of scale, subnational governments
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