Supreme Court decision on administrative reform expected in December
The Supreme Court’s constitutional review chamber will hand down its decision on the Administrative Reform Act on Dec. 20. Several municipalities are questioning the constitutionality of the act, which is enforcing territorial mergers aiming to drastically reduce the number of local governments.
The Administrative Reform Act requires Estonia’s municipalities to negotiate mergers with their neighbors with the aim to increase their population to at least 5,000 residents. If by the deadline set out in the act a municipality has not come to an arrangement with its neighbors, a state commission then takes over and enforces a merger.
Points the complainants disagree with include the requirement of at least 5,000 residents, as well as the fact that as they see it, they have not been given enough time to negotiate potential mergers. Both points were not proportional, and this conflicting with constitutional requirements to all law.
Another objection is the support payments all those municipalities are to receive that negotiate and agree to mergers on their own.
In detail, the act is being reviewed for potential conflict with municipalities’ right of self-management, the guarantee of their legal personality, the right to be heard, financial guarantee, and equal treatment, as well as for its democratic and legal principles.
In total, 26 local governments have submitted complaints, among them 25 rural municipalities and one city.