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Supreme Court: Forced merger of three municipalities not illegal

Koeru, Rakke and Lüganuse Municipalities will be merged this month.
Koeru, Rakke and Lüganuse Municipalities will be merged this month. Source: (ERR)

The Supreme Court of Estonia, which examined appeals filed by Koeru, Rakke and Lüganuse Municipalities over mandatory mergers, has found that their forced merger is not unconstitutional.

Estonia's top court adopted the stance that, when it comes to these three municipalities, in changing the administrative-territorial organization, the government has observed the requirements arising from the law and the government's regulation is not unconstitutional, spokespeople for the Supreme Court said.

The municipalities had questioned the constitutionality of the government regulations concerning their merger. According to the regulations, the administrative-territorial organization, borders and names of the municipalities were changed at the initiative of the government.

Earlier this year, the government earlier adopted orders as part of the administrative reform for the mandatory mergers of 26 municipalities which had not reached agreement on a voluntary merger or did not meet the required minimum population size of 5,000. Some municipalities then went to court to have the government regulations annulled.

A second tier court in Tallinn decided on July 12 that as the contested decisions will effectively change the administrative territorial organization of Estonia as a whole, the dispute concerning the constitutionality of regulatory acts should be resolved by the Constitutional Review Chamber of the Supreme Court.

Requests for a constitutional review of the merger orders were filed by the councils 17 municipalities: Kambja, Ülenurme, Pala, Illuka, Emmaste, Tõstamaa, Koeru, Lasva, Mikitamäe, Rakke, Lüganuse, Padise, Vasalemma, Pühalepa, Võru, Vastseliina and Sõmerpalu.

The handling of the requests of the remaining 14 municipalities by the Supreme Court is ongoing.

Mergers of municipalities under the Estonian administrative reform that is intended to cut the number of municipalities by two-thirds from the present 213 will take effect upon the conduct of municipal elections observing the new borders of municipalities on Oct. 15 this year.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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