Replacing regional competition by regional cooperation


By URBACT, on February 11th, 2011

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The provincial government of Styria in Austria has implemented a programme called RegioNext which regulates new forms for municipal cooperation. The regions (in Styria) are divided into ‘great regions’ and ‘small regions’. The intention of the programme is:
● to promote cooperation between neighbouring municipalities
● to increase the efficiency of public administration
● to relieve municipal budgets
● to give them more responsibilities
● to ensure attractive living spaces for inhabitants

Requirements for municipalities are increasing continuously. Especially small and medium sized cities do not have sufficient capacities and can hardly cope with this burden. Thus municipalities are encouraged to work together and build a cooperation that shares costs and work load.

Leoben, Lead Partner in the URBACT OP-ACT project, has initiated a cooperation with four smaller municipalities by supporting them with services like waste disposal, machinery for snow removal or road marking, child care facilities, etc. Smaller municipalities are often unable to afford the expense of buying expensive machineries and are dependent on external services. Being part of a cooperation helps them to leverage other opportunities. They are now able to borrow machinery from other cooperating municipalities which saves them costs. Another example would
be child care facilities There is very little incentive/need for such institutions in smaller municipalities to be able to build facilities to support even simple day care infrastructure. Yet,
they also want to provide the best options for their citizens. As a result of cooperation with surrounding municipalities they are now able to satisfy their citizens’ demands. If they
were dependent on their own budgets they would not be able to support their citizens in this manner.

Hence, this is a great tested example how to replace regional competition by regional cooperation. The OP-ACT project working on the strategic positioning of small and medium sized cities, will  focus on this subject duting its exchange and learning activities.

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