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significant territorial decentralization (Italy, the United Kingdom and Spain), and even proceeding with a formal
decentralization of jurisdictions (Belgium). This is indicative of stable or growing public needs in the fields of jurisdiction
of the federated states and a willingness to bring public bodies and citizens closer together. Robert Ebel sums it up well:
In the last two decades there has been a worldwide interest in decentralization of government in all
parts of the world. The pursuit of decentralization is widespread, as both developed and developing
countries attempt to challenge central governments’ monopoly of decision-making power (p. 145).
Another interesting fact is that federated states are playing an active and formal role in intergovernmental fiscal relations
in many of these federations. The participation of federated states in the definition, review and operation of these
relations is so important that reforms of intergovernmental fiscal arrangements are made unanimously or under special
majority rules that require the support of the various partners of the federation. In addition, in almost every case, it is
stipulated that the reforms adopted (Australia, Germany and Belgium) or under study (Switzerland) will have positive
financial consequences for all the federated states.
Also, in the federations studied, the revision and operating details of transfer programs are, in general, governed by a
set of rules that contribute to reduce the scope for arbitrary action by the central government in the determination of
envelopes. The operating rules that govern these programs also encourage, in some cases, improved predictability of
funding, in particular through indexation rules or by tying funding to certain variables (the yield of a tax, for instance)
whose growth can be forecast.
Lastly, we are convinced, from reading these texts, that there is wide diversity in how the federations considered deal
with the issue of intergovernmental fiscal relations. These countries have developed fiscal arrangements that meet their
specific needs and they adopt reforms to adapt them to new conditions. Reforms of fiscal arrangements in these
countries are the culmination of political negotiations that are certainly difficult, but ratified by all in the end. This is not
surprising. Intergovernmental fiscal arrangements are the “expression of the federal principle” (Otto Beierl, p. 55), i.e.
they must result from negotiations between orders of government on an equal footing and always aim at achieving a
better sharing of the financial resources within the federation. 12 Commission on Fiscal Imbalance REFERENCES
Texts for the Symposium that was scheduled to take place on September 13 and 14, 2001:
BEIERL, Otto, “Reforming Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations in Germany: The Bavarian Point of View.”
COLLINS, David J., “The 2000 Reform of Intergovernmental Fiscal Arrangements in Australia.”
DAFFLON , Bernard, “Fiscal Federalism in Switze...
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