Surveys

Využije vaše obec opatření obecné povahy
(zákon o hmotné nouzi – ustanovení § 33d)?

 

ano ano 12
ne ne 2

Activities

"2009"

Year 2009 was a notably difficult year for local government. The global financial crisis did not bypass cities and municipalities, whose budgets were reduced by billions of Czech crowns. Capital investments as well as operational costs had to be curtailed. Nonetheless the Union of Towns and Municipalities of the CR achieved certain successes, one of which is undoubtedly that the Union’s long-standing demand for increased financing to type I and II municipalities for transferred public administration competency was approved. 

A whole series of important events took place that received unprecedented attention by representatives of the national government and other state institutions. Although as of March 2009 the Cabinet was a body of experts rather than a political government body, which rendered political decision-making impossible, many important issues were debated and necessary recommendations were prepared for the new Cabinet that will emerge from the upcoming elections. 

Traditional regional meetings took place in February and March. A total of 1,207 local government representatives participated, which is evidence of the growing interest in such regional events. This time the topics of waste management and the “sidewalk amendment” dominated the meetings. Naturally, many questions also focused on e-Government and water management. The programme also included a section on municipal finances, in which experts from the Bureau of the Union informed participants about work currently underway on the Analysis of public administration and local government competency financing, changes to property taxes, local fee issues, etc. There was also discussion of public tenders, the new energy law, transfer of property from state to municipal ownership and a score of other topics, including activities that the Union undertook in connection with the Czech Republic’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Aside from organising important events, as part of the 18-month continuum of the presidency of three countries (France, the CR and Sweden), the Union became involved at the local government level in the Local Trio initiative, which aims to point out to the three national governments critical issues as viewed by local governments and local government’s important role in addressing these problems. 

On the initiative of Union President Oldřich Vlasák, the European Urban Day conference was held in February. The conference was dedicated to discussion of the urban dimension of structural policies in the current programming period and recommendations for enhancing the period after 2013. The conference was jointly prepared by the Senate, the Ministry for Regional Development, the Capitol City of Prague, the Statutory City of Kladno, the Council of European Municipalities and Regions, the CEVRO Institute and of course the Union of Towns and Municipalities. Conference participants agreed that cohesion policy after 2013 must not focus merely on support to the least developed regions and the urban dimension, which is key to societal economic growth, must remain a priority into the future. In March the European Summit of Regions and Cities tied into this event. One of the things summit participants emphasised was the local government role in resolving financial crisis impacts.

 Jan Zikl, Director of the Regional Budgets Financing Department at the Ministry of Finance and a key lecturer at the April Congress of Mayors and Lord Mayors in Brno, confirmed the bleak situation into which the crisis had plunged Czech towns and municipalities. His lecture focused primarily on tax income forecasts with the recommendation that everyone use the most pessimistic development alternative as a guide. He and congress participants then considered possible changes to budgetary tax allocation. In the second part of the programme Zdeněk Zajíček, Deputy Director of the Ministry of the Interior, informed participants about the launch of the new public administration electronification system. Although the system initially seemed rather complicated, it turned out that municipalities and cities handled electronic communication during its launch without any major problems. All mayors were pleased that the Union successfully asserted that municipalities and towns would not have to cover data box operation costs.  

One of the most important events of 2009 was indisputably the XI. Union Assembly, which was held in Karlovy Vary in late May. It was attended by 586 delegates from cities and municipalities as well as leading government representatives. Mayors’ attention naturally focused primarily on Prime Minister Jan Fischer and Minister of Finance Eduard Janota. Both confirmed that although they are members of a bureaucratic cabinet with a relatively short-term mandate, they intend to cooperate intensively with Union of Cities and Municipalities representatives on resolution of local government issues. They also shared their vision of how to move forward in some cases. They spoke above all about preparation of the national budget and possible changes to the tax income redistribution system. The Minister of Finance then strongly urged local government representatives to reach consensus among themselves and approach state institutions as a single voice. Disagreement between representatives of towns and municipalities merely complicates preparation of new budgetary tax allocation measures. Many took part in discussion of this topic and the will to find consensus emerged. Many other topics were discussed at the Assembly such as the issue of gambling machines and terminals, drawing funding from subsidy programmes, water management, questions about e-Government and transferred public administration competency financing. An extensive discussion on social exclusion took place with Michael Kocáb, Minister for Human Rights and Minorities. The remarks about different topics were then projected into the priorities for Union activities for the next two year period.

 In June an international conference on the quality of social services in Europe was held in Prague. The Union was not the main organiser of the event, but it participated in its preparation to a large degree. The conference in Prague was attended by 400 delegates from 27 countries. This was the largest event held to date which responded to the debate on the subject of how to understand the term quality social services and how to ensure their accessibility to citizens. During the introduction, Union President Oldřich Vlasák spoke about the role of towns in the development of local social services. He emphasised the indispensable role that municipalities play in this area, although, in his opinion, not all towns approach this role as responsibly as others. The conference was also a part of the official programme of the Czech EU Council presidency. It was organised by the independent European Social Network, of which the Union of Towns and Municipalities is also a member.

 Another very important event was held on 27 July, when the representatives of the Union met again with the Czech government at Strakova Akademie. These regular annual meetings are based on the Agreement on Mutual Cooperation, signed in 2005. The Union prepared several topics, including the proposed solutions, for this meeting. Union representatives demanded above all the increased financing for transferred public administration competency for small municipalities, the provision of the necessary means for the pre-financing of projects, the simplification of operation programme administration, the government’s declaration as to the manner in which lack of funds for water management projects would be resolved, etc.  They submitted several demands for the preparation of budgetary tax allocation and they urged the government to start preparing the legislative changes enabling charge-free transfer of state property to municipalities.  They also discussed with the government matters such as the new gaming law, waste management, and how to most effectively fight against the growing extremism. At this opportunity Prime Minister Jan Fischer also signed a Memorandum on Cooperation of the Union and the Czech government in mitigating the effects of the financial crisis.

 In October, another joint meeting of the heads of the Czech and Slovak Unions was held in Uherský Brod. The main subject of discussion was the effect of the financial crisis on towns and municipalities. The crisis understandably had an impact on both countries and the reactions to it were similar. However, there were some differences in the approaches of the two governments and so the exchange of experience was quite useful for both of the Unions. For the Czech side, the information that the Association of Towns and Municipalities of Slovakia is one of the three employment organisations in Slovakia and that as a social partner it is a direct member of the Slovak Crisis Council, was quite inspiring. The Tripartite membership enables it to participate in the resolution of all important problems that have a social aspect.

 The delegates of the XII. state-wide finance conference, organised by the Union at the end of November in Prague, discussed whether 2010 would bring more favourable financing for towns and municipalities than 2009. Despite the fact that the conference brought several encouraging pieces of information from the Deputy Minister of Finance, Bohdan Hejduk, the mayors did not believe the optimistic outlook very much. The statement that the contribution for 2010 would be increased for smaller municipalities to the transferred execution of state administration was, however, definitely positive. This was pronounced a great success of the Union both by Deputy Minister Hejduk, and another lecturer, MP Vladislav Vilímec. The participating delegates, who numbered more than 300 at the conference, were also interested in other subjects such as what it is like to be a VAT payer, property taxes, waste management and gaming operation.

 Because in 2010 goes into effect a legislative change, which will have a significant impact on the operation of town and municipal halls, in December the Union organised a specialised seminar on accounting for its members. Despite many problems the Union pointed out throughout the year, the Union at least secured a promise that 2010 will be treated as a pilot year and that the Ministry of Finance will not penalise municipalities. The Bureau of the Union temporarily added accounting to its legal advising service. 

 During the year, Union representatives also participated in many events organised by various institutions where they promoted their positions. These, included, for example, the “Internet in State Administration and Local Government” conference in Hradec Králové, a seminar on the subject of the “Transferred Public Administration Competency vs. Budgetary Tax Allocation in the Senate or a conference dedicated to e-Government entitled “Quo Vadis, Electronification of Public Administration?” in Benešov. 

 The Union also participated in the organisation and preparation of several competitions. The most prestigious certainly include the Village of the Year contest, the Golden Crest, Trips through Towns, and others.

 The Union’s everyday activity concentrated mostly on legislation on both the national and European levels. Despite the fact that the government did not have a political mandate and therefore was not able to make political decisions, many measures, ordinances and laws were adopted. In the area of education it was the Education Act, in environmental protection it was the new Clean Air Act, Waste Management Act, Water Act, and also reform measures in accounting of public budgets, gaming, construction and land use planning, e-Government, transportation, social welfare, etc. In the end the Union received 199 proposals for legal regulations for review, 45 of which were of major importance for municipalities. A total of 290 major objections were raised against the individual regulations of the reviewed legal ordinances and the majority of them was accepted. You can find more detailed information about the Union’s work on legislation in a separate chapter “About the Legislative Activities of the Union in 2009.”

 On the European level, the Union is gradually starting to participate in the review process of European Commission proposals and positions prepared by the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) and it is engaged in the advocacy of the interests of towns and municipalities in the European Parliament and European Council. In this context, the activity of the Union’s president, Oldřich Vlasák, in the European Parliament is a great advantage for the Union. In this way, both sides can be mutually informed about the ordinances that are being discussed or approved and about their impact on the local government. As an example, we can mention the participation of the Union in the consultation process related to the preparation of the 2020 EU Strategy, which is to replace the Lisbon Strategy. The consultation process was initiated by the European Commission and on its basis it will propose a statement by which the European Council and the European Parliament will adopt the 2020 EU priorities.

 The Union is also very actively working in many CEMR working groups. The Union succeeded in having its demands included in the CEMR position on public tenders. The Union also actively participates in working groups active in the areas of political cohesion, social welfare, environment, transportation, etc.

 The international activities of the Union, aside from events already mentioned, related to the Czech Republic EU Council Presidency and the Union’s work in the European context, included international visits of organisations with which the Union cooperates. Undoubtedly one of the most important events of this type was the visit of the representative from the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG) at the end of October. It was a reciprocated two-day visit of both elected representatives and the representatives of the office and the VNG International subsidiary. According to the statement of the head of the Dutch delegation, the activities of the Union of Towns and Municipalities of the Czech Republic was in many respects an inspiration, especially in the broad participation of mayors and municipal council representatives in joint activities. During the year we organised many meetings with a large delegation of Austrian mayors, our partnership organisation from Slovakia (ZMOS) and with the representatives of other international associations from Norway, Turkey, Belarus, Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia, who were interested in the activities of the Union and expressed an interest in cooperation in development of local government. In the area of partnership cooperation between towns (town twinning), a great inspiration was the visit of the representative from the American town of Berwyn, which established contact with Hradec Králové with the help of the Union.

From the Union’s project activity, the implementation of the New Approaches to Training of Local Councillors project (NATLC), the goal of which is to create an educational methodology for elected officials and to recruit and train instructors from among experienced local representatives and to use the long lasting Norwegian experience, must be mentioned. The project is co-financed by the EHP/Norway Financial Mechanism. The Union’s partners are the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS) and Educational Centre for Public Administration of the Czech Republic, o. p. s.  Mepco, s. r. o. is also participating in the project. 

The Union’s members were informed on an on-going basis about all Union activities through the web pages, the monthly Information Service bulletin and, at the end of the year, through the new electronic news bulletin.  

 

 
 

Calendar

24. October 2017

Výroční konference IROP „Kulturní dědictví ze strukturálních fondů"

1. November 2017

Konference "Kybernetická bezpečnost"

Praha
1. November 2017 15:00-17:00

Komora obcí

Praha 9, Clarion Congress Hotel Prague
 
2. November 2017

Národní informační den pro oblast ENERGY a EURATOM

Praha
2. - 3. November 2017

XX. celostátní finanční konference

Clarion Congress Hotel Prague

Address

Union of Towns and Municipalities of the Czech Republic 
Prague Congress Centre
5. května 1640/65
140 00 Prague 4
Czech Republic

tel.: +420 234 709 711
fax: +420 234 709 786
e-mail: smocr@smocr.cz