The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, one of the world smallest countries, is located in North- Western Europe. It lost part of its territories to France (1659), Prussia (later Germany, 1815) and Belgium (1839), whereas its independence was established by the Treaty of London of 1839. Luxembourg is a unitary State with a municipal level of decentralisation, established under the 1868 Constitution. It was one of the founding members of the European Coal and Steel Community (1952) and of the European Economic Community (1957), which later became the European Union (1993). Three languages are practiced and recognised in Luxembourg: Luxembourgish, French and German.
Luxembourg is a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy, characterised by a flexible separation of powers. Its Parliament (Chambre des députés) is unicameral. The Government is led by the Prime Minister, whereas the Head of State is the Grand Duke. The central government has exclusive legislative power in all fields related to the national interest. In addition, it has general legislative and administrative powers, except for local powers specifically de ned by the law.
Luxembourg was divided administratively into three districts (Luxembourg, Diekirch and Grevenmacher), abolished on 3rd October 2015. Each district was led by a commissioner, appointed by the central government. They were in turn subdivided into cantons and municipalities (communes). Districts could not be considered as a level of government, but only as a de-concentrated level of State administration, used for territorial and administrative purposes.
The Grand Duke appointed a District Commissioner in each district. They were state officials responsible to the Home Minister and to the Government, and served as contact points between the central Government and local administrations. They also acted as coordinating points between Municipalities. All local administrations (except Luxembourg City) were under the District Commissioner’s direct supervision. As most decisions taken by the Municipalities are subject to the approval of the Grand Duke or the Government, the District Commissioners reported to the Home Minister on problems concerning the management of Municipalities. The cantons are 12: Capellen, Clervaux, Diekirch, Echternach, Esch-sur-Alzette, Grevenmacher, Luxembourg, Mersch, Redange-sur-Attert, Remich, Vianden and Wiltz. They do not have an administrative structure. Instead, they serve as territorial units, used to define the four electoral constituencies (south, centre, east and north).
Municipalities, created at the time of the 1789 French Revolution, are governed by an elected council and a mayor. They maintain links with the central government and act as its local agents. Art. 107 of the 1868 Constitution provides the right to local self-government. Municipalities are considered as legal entities in charge of their own bodies, heritage and interests.
The Constitution does not describe municipal competences in detail. An important legal source concerning the division of powers between the State and municipalities is the Municipal Organisation Act (loi communale) of 1988. The distribution of competences is further specified in several other laws. Municipalities dispose of general competence for all matters concerning municipal interests, but only have administrative competences. Municipal competences are divided into mandatory and optional.
The mandatory functions of municipalities include: organisation of the municipality, education (buildings and school organisation, but not the curricula and pedagogical matters), municipal road network, traffic management, local planning, water supply and waste management, emergency services, police matters (jointly with the State), public hygiene and health, as well as social welfare.
Optional functions carried out by municipalities include: public transport, management of clinics and hospitals, sporting activities, music education, economic development (e.g. the creation of industrial, commercial and craft areas), tourism and cultural affairs.
The municipalities’ financial resources are derived from autonomous taxation (33.8%), grants (44.3%) and other sources of revenues (21.9%). Since municipalities are rather small, a process has started to merge several local authorities. There are currently 105 municipalities in Luxembourg.
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.