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France: Intermunicipal Authorities

Last modified: 2010-12-03 by ivan sache
Keywords: intermunicipal authority | municipality | communaute d'agglomeration | communaute urbaine | communaute de communes |
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Status of Intermunicipal Authorities

Law No 99-586 of 12 July 1999 "On consolidation and simplification of intermunicipal cooperation" prescribes a modification of the General Code of the Territorial Authorities, Part V ("Local cooperation"), Book II ("Intermunicipal cooperation).
Oddly enough, France has 36,000 municipalities, ranging from 0 to 2,181,371 inhabitants, with, theoretically, all the same duties. Intermunicipal cooperation, placed in a legal framework, was expected to trigger partnership between the big towns and their smaller neighbours, as well as between small municipalities (for instance, in mountain areas). This systems more or less replaced the municipal mergings that were decided in a top-bottom approach and were, in several cases, unsuccessful and frustrating for all parts involved. The significance of "intermunicipality" (intercommunalité) has dramatically increased over the last years, allowing mutualization of means and costs (for instance, the management of local roads in mountain areas, garbage collection, development of local collective transport, etc.)
The law prescribes different authorities, depending on the number of inhabitants and size of the municipalities.

Article 1 prescribes communautés d'agglomération (Town Authorities, agglomération refering to a big municipality proper and the surrounding, smaller municipalities) as follows:

The Town Authority shall be a public institution of intermunicipal cooperation, grouping several municipalities, which form, at the date of its creation, a body of at least 50,000 inhabitants, territorially uninterrupted and without any enclave, around one or several central municipalities with more than 15,000 inhabitants. The demographic threshold of 15,000 shall not appply when the Town Authority includes the capital of a Department. [...] These municipalities join together within an area of solidarity to elaborate and manage together a common project of urban and territorial development.

As of 2006, the Departments whose capital has less than 15,000 inhabitants are Ardèche (Privas), Ariège (Foix), Creuse (Guéret), Lozère (Mende) and Guadeloupe (Basse-Terre).

Article 5 prescribes communautés urbaines (Urban Authorities) as follows:

The Urban Authority is a public institution of intermunicipal cooperation, grouping several municipalities, territorially uninterrupted and without any enclave, which form, at the date of its creation, a body of at least 500,000 inhabitants, and join together within an area of solidarity to elaborate and manage together a common project of urban and territorial development. These requirements are not mandatory for the Urban Authorities that already existed at the date of publication of Law No. 99-586 of 12 July 1999 on consolidation and simplification of intermunicipal cooperation.

The last sentence refers to Urban Authorities that had been settled "informally", before the adoption of the present law.

Article 14 precises the definition of communautés de communes (Municipalities' Authority) already given in the General Code of the Territorial Authorities, as follows:

The Municipalities' Authority shall be a public institution of intermunicipal cooperation, grouping several municipalities, territorially uninterrupted and without any enclave.

The requirement of territorial continuity was added to the previous definition. Accordingly, all municipalities, providing they share a border, can join a Municipalities' Authority, without any demographic threshold. As an example, the Communauté de communes de la Vallée d'Aulps groups nine municipalities of the Northern Alps with a total population of 3,585 inhabitants.

Ivan Sache, 19 September 2009


Index of Intermunicipal Authorities's flag pages

This list is not a comprehensive list of French Intermunicipal Authorities but only an index of those for which flag-related information is presented on this website.