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Merging, the only possible way for the future of small Walloon municipalities?

  • Post category:Economy News
  • Reading time:3 mins read

This is the path to follow in a time when it is necessary to save money in public management, particularly in view of our institutional lasagna. It is more and more complicated in small towns which have to hire legal grades and qualified staff which obviously cost a lot. It is also a possible response to the crisis of political vocations. So, for all these reasons, we must tend towards natural fusions. I regret the extremely limited number of municipalities having taken the plunge. Parochialism and fear of the other have unfortunately won out.

The parochialism is tenacious

This is the feeling of Pascal Delwit, professor of political science at the ULB. There are of course many explanations for the general lack of support for the idea of ​​merger, but for the political scientist, parochialism remains the primary explanation.

There is reluctance in part of the population and among many agents to take the plunge. The inhabitants are attached to their commune, to its traditions, etc. And then, there are also sometimes different political majorities in the municipalities that could merge and therefore things stall. And there can also be competition between two mayors of the same political sensibility.

A logical evolution?

Pascal Delwit nevertheless believes that from many angles, certain mergers would in any case be logical. Beyond the difficulties encountered by the communes, what to observe, he says, ” is that the role of the municipalities and the way of fulfilling their missions have evolved considerably. Municipalities still fulfill civil status missions today, of course, but they can also deal with environmental sciences or the art of building. And for that, you need another type of staff and to get there, you already need a municipality of a certain size..”

And the “supracommunality”?

This is another possible way to help small municipalities for Christophe Collignon, PS, the Walloon Minister for Local Authorities who is also the titular mayor of Huy. A track which already exists everywhere but which, according to him, should be intensified.

Merging can be a solution but what we have put on the table is a broader panel in the name of municipal autonomy in particular. A merger may work in one case, not in the other. Merging two small municipalities with large territories, lots of roads and small budgets, for example, does not make much sense.