Round table «Local self-government in Russia and Germany - similarities and differences of the model



25 April 2014 in St. Petersburg took place the Round table entitled "Local self-government in Russia and Germany - similarities and differences of the models", organized by the regional project EU-Russia Dialogue of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, the European Club of Experts in Local Self-Government (ECE LSG) and St. Petersburg State University.

From the beginning of the current municipal reform in Russia it has been repeatedly stated that the reform is has been implemented under the influence of the German model of local self-government. Such references are often made out of ignorance, and sometimes deliberately in order to "prove" that a democratic model of society and authorities, which have proved successful in Germany, allegedly unacceptable for Russia. Is the statement about the similarity of the models of local self-government in Russia and Germany true or wrong - this question was on the agenda of Russian and German scientists and experts meeting.

With welcoming speeches to participants of the Round table addressed Dean of the Law faculty of St. Petersburg State University Natalya Sheveleva, Head of the regional project EU-Russia Dialogue of Konrad-Adenauer-StiftungThomas Schneider, Chairman First Deputy of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the St. Petersburg Government Igor Lonsky, Representative of the Consulate General of Germany in St. Petersburg Vadim Reimer and Director of the Information Office of Nordic Council of Ministers in Saint Petersburg Mika Boedeker.

The first block of the event was devoted to the role and place of LSG in modern state and society. The opinions of Russian and German parties were expressed by Professor of the Humboldt University (Berlin) Alexander Blankenagel, Judge of the Russian Constitutional Court Konstantin Aranovsky and President of ECE LSG, Head of the Department of State and Municipal Management of the Perm Institute of Municipal Management Emil Markwart.

At the second session of the Round table participants discussed issues of territorial organization and competences of local self-government in Russia and Germany. Here presentations were made by Mayor of Ottweiler (Germany) Holger Schäfer, Professor of the Department of Constitutional and Administrative Law of St. Petersburg State University, member of ECE LSG Elena Gritsenko and Professor of the Moscow State LawAcademy, member of ECE LSG Ekaterina Shugrina.

The subject of the final session of the event was provision of resources and economic activities of municipalities inRussia and Germany. The discussion started with presentations of Senior Researcher of Humboldt University (Berlin) Ilya Levin, Researcher of the Institute of Eastern Europe Law (Regensburg-Munich) Antje Himmelreich and Head of the Department of State and Municipal Management of St Petersburg Institute of Education in the Sphere of Humanities and Social Sciences, President of the Institute of Municipal Development Sergey Kirsanov.

Final discussion touched upon issues which caused the greatest interest in all three panels of the Round table. Participants also repeatedly returned to the current draft of the law which makes amendments and additions to the Russian legislation on local self-government. All experts, scientists and practitioners negatively assessed the planned innovations (the abolition of direct elections of city mayors and heads of municipalities, "fragmentation" of cities in inner city districts, sharp reduction of the powers of rural settlements). During the debriefing, the participants noted that currently between local self-government in Germany and Russia are far more differences than similarities. With time these differences are amplified.

In the unanimous opinion of the participants, the Roundtable was very interesting and successful. The participants expressed a common interest in conducting such events in the future.

Audio and video recording of the event you can find here.




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