TED 7, Cluj-Napoca
The Faculty of Political, Public Administration, and Communications Sciences at Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, jointly with NISPACee (Network of Institutes and Schools in Public Administration in Central and Eastern Europe) and EGPA (European Group for Public administration) hosted in Cluj the 7th edition of the Trans European Dialogue (TED7) on the topic of Strong Local Governments: Community, Strategy, Integration. The conference took place on 6-7 February, 2014 and brought together a number of 35 scholars in the field of public administration from Western and Eastern European countries.
Some of the key issues addressed during presentations included: Democratic representation and how easy it is for the local communities to get their message across; performance and quality management in the public sector (how well public local administrations serve the needs of the community); accountability (what mechanisms are in place to ensure the accountability of the public administration vis-à-vis the community).
Another point for debate was if local governments are able to develop strategies capable of serving the local community and their constituencies in the context of globalization and of the trends/priorities promoted by the Europe 2020 strategy. Because TED conferences are by their very nature a conversation between West and East, participants debated if the former communist countries/administrations are ready to become fully integrated within the functioning framework of the Western public administrative systems; best practices in local politics and democracy coming from the Western democracies in the EU; how policy transfer occurs across and within countries and the barriers that prevent and factors which stimulate, policy transfer. The main conclusion of all papers is that while local government still matters, strategies for restructuring and reforming it should clearly determine what goals are to be achieved: better service provision, better democratic representation and accountability, or both.
A special issue of the NISPAcee journal will be dedicated to the papers presented during TED7. It is the intention of NISPAcee and EGPA, the two parent organizations behind ted conferences, to broadly disseminate the conclusions of the East-West dialogue on the topic of fostering stronger local governments in Europe.