160 JURIDICA INTERNATIONAL XX/2013
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 ﬁ 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//43939.edicypages.com/ﬁ les/Tallinna_Tehnikaülikooli_lõpparuanne_15_02_2011.pdf (most recently
accessed on 2.3.2013) (in Estonian)).