Romania needs Functional Urban Areas

CRPE Policy Memo  Romania needs Functional Urban Areas August 2013. 

coperta zone urbane functionale engleza

This Report discusses, from a functional and governance perspective, the functional urban areas, internationally considered to be basic units necessary for polycentric development, and reviews the opportunity to implement them in the administrative-territorial and legal context of Romania. Our research is based on existing literature defining the functional urban area (ZUF) with emphasis on the ESPON 1.1.1 and 1.4.3 studies – which review polycentric development at the European level and make the case for this type of approach in setting up development strategies – and on national legislative documents, transposing the concept into practice. Not least, the Report conclusions will provide some practical recommendations for the establishment and good operation of ZUFs – integrated into the administrative-territorial system and the institutional framework of Romania.

The main stake in finding a solution to the problem of assigning competencies and responsibilities in functional urban areas is turning associations in such areas into functional tools that may ensure a much higher level of efficiency in the existing administrative-territorial units at the sub-regional tier and a higher level of subsidiarity. Fair sharing of competencies and responsibilities may therefore have a beneficial effect in reducing the fragmentation of the basic administrative-territorial units, which currently amount to 320 urbane localities, of which 103 municipalities and 2,861 communes (see Table for a comparison of administrative-territorial units across the EU).

If we consider the EU programming period 2014-2020 and the new proposed financial instruments (e.g. Integrated Territorial Investments – ITI) this type of association may have a beneficial effect on the local authority’s capacity to make efficient use of such instruments.

Considering together the typology and stakeholders described above as participants in the associations for functional urban areas and the existing administrative-territorial system, as well as the hierarchic institutional dimension, we can identify a number of competencies and responsibilities that might be assigned to the ZUF, without changing the responsibilities of local authorities (i.e. counties, towns and municipalities, communes). Moreover, the identified set provides a basis for much more efficient cooperation at the local level and for a multi-level among local authorities, potential regional authorities and national authorities.

Full report, in English, in available here.