The Czech Republic is a country located in central Europe. It comprises the historical provinces of Bohemia and Moravia as well as the southern tip of Silesia, which are collectively often called the Czech Lands. At the end of the World War I, with the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the state of Czechoslovakia was established. The democratic and post-communist Czechoslovakian state lasted only four years (1989-1993). Indeed, on January 1, 1993, Czechs and Slovaks decided to dissolve the union of their nation-states. As the Czech Republic, the new country joined the European Union (EU) in 2004.
Regions: territorial communities of citizens
In the Czech Republic, in accordance with the law on regions, a region is considered a territorial community of citizens who have the right to self-government. At the same time, a region is a public corporation with its own property, that it administrates independently under the conditions stipulated by law and in accordance with its budget. Regional bodies include the Regional Assembly, Regional Council, President and Regional Office. The president can also set up additional bodies. Several tasks are carried out independently by regions (independent regional competence), whereas other tasks are fulfilled on behalf of the state, on the basis of delegation (delegated regional competence).
The Czech Republic is divided into 13 regions: Karlovy Vary Region, Liberec Region, Moravian- Silesian Region, The Pardubice Region, The Ústí Region, Vysočina Region, Zlín Region, South Bohemian Region, Hradec Králové Region, The Olomouc Region, The Pilsen Region, Central Bohemia Region and Southern Moravia Region. With the City of Prague, they form the fourteen greater territorial self-governing units of the State. According to EU statistics, these fourteen units are considered NUTS 3 regions.
Czech regions are administrated by an elected Regional Assembly. The president of the Czech Republic declares elections to the regional assemblies at least ninety days before they are to be held. Every Czech citizen over 18 years of age with a permanent residence in the region has the right to vote. Foreign citizens permanently residing in the region’s territory have the right to vote as well. Voters can also be elected as member of the assembly.
Regional Assemblies are elected for a period of four years. Election wards correspond to the territory of each region. Only political parties, movements and coalitions can contest elections. Seats are distributed proportionately to those candidates who received at least five per cent of all valid votes. Elections to the regional assembly took place for the first time in 2000, and 33.64% of eligible voters took part in them.
Competences of the regions
Within the framework of their own creation of norms, regions issue commonly binding regional ordinances pertaining issues within the region’s independent competence. They also produce regional decrees concerning issues within the region’s delegated competence. Both types of regulations must be in accordance with the law; in addition, decrees must be in accordance with other legal regulations issued to carry out the law as well. The state can interfere in regional decisions related to independent competence only if required by the protection of the law and in ways permitted by law.
Within the framework of their independent competence, regions can submit proposals for legal regulations and to the Constitutional Court. They can issue commonly binding ordinances, co-ordinate, approve and secure territorial development programmes, approve land zoning documentation for the region’s territory, establish measures to develop regional tourism and decide on the basic transportation service in the region. In addition, they can make decisions on regional property transactions, which includes acquiring and transferring real estate, providing subsidies to civic organisations and municipalities, as well as forgiving debts.
In the Czech Republic, regions do not have autonomy in taxation, which is established by the Czech Parliament. The financing system of local administrations is continuously developing. During the first two years of the regions’ existence only a provisional resolution was in place: according to it regions were financed mainly through government subsidies, granted for specific purposes. As required by law, regions are currently in charge of the areas of regional development, highway maintenance, transportation, schooling, social care, culture and health care facilities. However, finances given to regions to cover these tasks independently have proven to be insuficient.
Association of Regions in the Czech Republic
In June 2001, one year after the regional system was put into effect, the Association of Regions in the Czech Republic was founded. It is a private interest group that aims at promoting the regions’ joint interests. All Czech regions, as well as the City of Prague, are part of it. In 2002, regions became the recipients of a portion of shared taxes, which amounted to 3.1% in 2004. The Czech Republic is currently working on a reform of public finances, which is expected to increase the portion regions receive in shared taxes. Regions are asking to change the public financing system because in its current form it does not reflect their changing competence. In addition, regions consider such system not sufficient to cover the extent of new tasks they are in charge of. Therefore, they are advocating a legislative amendment that would support sufficiently financing the performance of these new capacities.
Czech Regions and the European Union
The Czech regions are affected by the European Union legislation in many ways. Regions are currently actively connected to projects and programmes financed by EU structural funds. The Czech Republic’s share of tapped EU finances is strongly influenced by regions that have the necessary administrative capacity. Some regions have also opened a permanent office in Brussels in order to monitor ongoing regional policy decisions taken by European institutions. Taking into account the EU’s statistic methodology, the Czech Republic is also divided into 8 NUTS 2 regions: NUTS 2 Prague, NUTS 2 Central Bohemia, NUTS 2 South-West, NUTS 2 North- West, NUTS 2 North-East, NUTS 2 South-East, NUTS 2 Central Moravia and NUTS 2 Moravia- Silesia.
by Gianmartino Contu
The Report on the state of Regionalisation in Europe.
More than 40 experts contributed to this work, by delivering detailed reports about the state of regionalisation and multilevel governance in chosen European countries. The study covers 41 countries, and each country report is based on a similar structure, thereby allowing a comparative approach among all studied countries.
- The first part of the report gives the political impetus from the main European stakeholders
- The second part of this report entails a summarised version of the country reports. The objective is to provide interested readers with a short overview of the main features of regionalisation in various European countries. The complete versions of the country reports are available on the AER website, under LINK
- The third part provides a thematic approach based on the main findings delivered by the country reports and the current state of regionalisation in Europe. The trends and outlooks lead to open questions on the future of the regions in the European landscape, and more broadly on the role of subnational authorities in the shaping of the continent.
- The fourth part gives the floor to the actual regional decision-makers in Europe, across a series of interviews and statements by Presidents, Vice-Presidents and elected representatives of the European regions.
Over the next months, we will be focusing on a different European country’s approach to regionalisation. During these months, look out for #RoR2017 on Twitter and/or Facebook and follow us at @europeanregions.
Strong European regions are a pathway to a stronger Europe.