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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Reorganisation of regional and local government in France

France currently consists of over 35,000 communes, 4,000 cantons, 100 departments and 22 regions. In an attempt to rationalise this wide array of regional and local government and cut expenditure President Sarkosy at the end of 2008 appointed an ex-Prime Minister Eduoard Balladur to head a commission to look into the matter. This commission reported early in 2009. For some background on this issue see the BBC Report and the Irish Times report. See also page 7 of The French State and its territorial challenges by Alistair Cole. This article as a whole gives a very good overview of regional and local government in France.

Most of the Balladur proposals for reorganisation at the regional and departmental levels have been scrapped or put on hold (see the above reports). However, at the communal and inter-communal levels a series of meetings have been held over the past few months to examine the rationalisation of Communités des Communes or inter-communal public corporations (EPCIs). On 20 November a public meeting in the commune of Catus, where I live, gave details of the fusion of the Communités des Communes de Catus (a grouping of 17 communes) and of the Pays de Cahors to create a larger Communauté de Communes du Grand Cahors. Some of the arguments put forward in favour of this fusion are that it will make for a better use of skills and of material resources (e.g. transport, sports facitities, etc.) without an increase in local taxation. This new larger grouping of communes is due to take effect as from the beginning of 2010. For more background (in French) on this particluar fusion see articles from La Depeche, a regional newspaper.

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