Inter-municipal Cooperation, Mergers & Region Building

The administrative landscape in Flanders is in a state of far-reaching change. Municipalities are scaling up to continue to meet the increasing expectations of citizens and higher authorities.

On 1 January 2019, seven new municipalities were created, from a merger of 15 local authorities. With the continued financial support of the Flemish Government (read more), it looks as though more mergers will follow in the coming years.

At the same time, public bodies at regional level are strengthening themselves as a platform with a hinging function for not only more reciprocal cooperation between municipalities but also more inter-administrative cooperation, e.g. between the Flemish Government and the local authorities. Examples of this include transport regions, care regions, etc.

It may take some time in a voluntary setting, but it looks strongly as though these are evolving towards the situation outlined below, with strong base local authorities that cooperate with each other and with other government bodies and make agreements at regional level.


The IDEA Group in relation to this 

The IDEA Group is very active on the theme of “administrative scaling”. While IDEA Consult provides strategic support to local authorities and regions in terms of partnerships and mergers, the MONDEA team ensures that the vision of the future is also effectively realised on the work floor. Our services vary according to customer demand:

  • Administrative power measurement: a partnership or merger is not a goal in and of itself. The aim is to be able to achieve goals in a more effective manner, thus producing a higher-quality result. The first step is to find out how powerful the municipality is today in terms of its administrative capabilities. On which themes is the local authority in question well equipped? On which points do we, as a local authority, find it difficult to achieve our goals in a satisfactory manner?
  • Exploratory programmes on cooperation and mergers: are the neighbouring municipalities prepared for more intensive partnerships or mergers? IDEA conducts an exploratory survey, brings together the viewpoints and translates this into possible scenarios.
  • Drawing up a partnership or merger file: a good start is half the battle, and this also applies to partnerships and mergers. IDEA creates a merger file for administrative bodies that want to cooperate more closely or enter into a merger, in which not only added value but pitfalls are identified. This will enable you to get started in a sufficiently prepared manner.
  • Guidance: a successful partnership obviously depends on its implementation. Whether a partnership or merger is good or bad hinges upon the way in which it approached. IDEA offers the following services:
    • Process management: drawing up the process architecture, designing a step-by-step plan;
    • The realisation of a strong superstructure: a vision of the future, a new service model, an integrated organisational model;
    • Implementation: the integration of services, a new legal status scheme, change management.
  • Communication and participation: change raises questions among employees and citizens. The context and rationale must be presented in a sufficiently clear manner, both within the organisation and externally. IDEA provides administrative bodies with inspiration in setting up a project website and organising information and consultation sessions.
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foto Bart Van Herck
Bart Van Herck
Senior Expert Regional & Urban Development / Managing Director