Problems of Estonian Local Government in 2013 and Co-operation as an Instrument of Their Resolution

Author:Kalle Merusk - Vallo Olle
Position:Professor of Constitutional and Administrative Law, University of Tartu - Docent of Administrative Law University of Tartu
Kalle Merusk Vallo Olle
Professor of Constitutional and Docent of Administrative Law
Administrative Law, University of Tartu University of Tartu
Problems of Estonian Local
Government in 2013 and
Co-operation as an Instrument
of Their Resolution
In 1928, Estonian lawyer E. Maddison wrote on the expanding load of a local government’s (LG’s) tasks:
‘The way out would be through joining forces and working together with some other local government.’*1
Eighty-four years later, the document titled ‘Survey of the Trends and Problems of Estonian Local Govern-
ment Organisation and Proposals Made by Different Parties’ states that, while there exist some examples
of co-operation among LGs, this opportunity is, in fact, not very widely exercised.*2 Because of the real-
world nature of the problems seen today, the authors of the present article have focused on the issues of
LG co-operation law. Also, there is a relative scarcity in Estonia of relevant legal writings on this particular
subject.*3 The format for this article determines certain decisions as to the subject matter: themes related to
potential models for a metropolitan area remain beyond the scope of study.
The authors search for and attempt to formulate answers to the following questions:
1) What main problems are characteristic of the current Estonian LG system?
2) What can/should be done in LG law, particularly in co-operation law, to solve these problems?
Although this article focuses on the themes of voluntary co-operation, its opposite pole – mandatory co-oper-
ation—cannot fully be overlooked. As a matter of fact, in the Estonian legal system voluntary co-operation
among LGs is synonymous with their co-operation as a whole: unlike many countries (Finland, Denmark,
Latvia, etc.), Estonia has no regulations in its legislation addressing obligatory co-operation among LGs.
1 Sihtühisuste probleem meie omavalitsuste elus [‘The problem of joint ventures in the life of our local governments’]. –
Maaomavalitsus. Eesti Maaomavalitsuste Liidu häälekandja 1928/12, p. 181 (in Estonian).
2 Ülevaade Eesti omavalitsuskorraldust puudutavatest trendidest, probleemidest ja eri osapoolte ettepanekutest [‘Overview of
the Trends, Problems and Proposals from Various Parties’]. Tallinn 2012, p. 21. Available at https://www.siseministeerium.
ee/public/Lisa_2_Ulevaade_KOV_trendidest_probleemid..pdf (most recently accessed on 3.3.2013) (in Estonian).
3 One could mention as an exception the commented edition of the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia, wherein certain
aspects of co-operation among LGs are dealt with under §159 (Eesti Vabariigi põhiseadus. Kommenteeritud väljaanne.
Kolmas, täiendatud väljaanne [‘Constitution of the Republic of Estonia, Commented Edition. Third, Revised Edition’].
Tallinn: Juura 2012, pp. 878–881 (in Estonian)), and the nal report from the study of legal and managerial solutions for
co-operation models of metropolitan areas compiled by the Tallinn University of Technology by order of the Union of Harju
County Municipalities (Projekti „Pealinnaregiooni omavalitsusüksuste koostöö- ja haldusvõimekuse tõstmine” raames
pealinnapiirkonna koostöömudelite õiguslike ja juhtimisalaste lahenduste väljatöötamine. Lõpparuanne. Tallinn 2011.
Available at http// les/Tallinna_Tehnikaülikooli_lõpparuanne_15_02_2011.pdf (most recently
accessed on 2.3.2013) (in Estonian)).

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