Austrian roundtable debates intergovernmental relations

Federalism experts, academics and practitioners from Austria recently participated in a roundtable on intergovernmental relations in federal countries at the Landhaus Innsbruck – the legislature of the Province of Tyrol.

The roundtable was one of 12 on this theme being held by the Forum in one dozen federal countries around the world as part of its Global Dialogue series, in co-operation with the International Association of Centers for Federal Studies.

The 27 participants at the meeting discussed co-operative federalism in Austria and different types of intergovernmental relations. Other key elements discussed included legislative and executive mechanisms in intergovernmental relations and fiscal federalism.

The experts questioned whether co-operative federalism could work in practice in Austria, given that there are many different drivers forcing each of the constituent units (the Länder) and the central government in somewhat different directions. The participants discussed legislative and executive mechanisms for intergovernmental relations in Germany in the morning session along with the impact of intergovernmental relations on federalism.

In the afternoon session, participants discussed agreements between orders of governments, fiscal federalism among orders of governments, efficiency in policy-making and implementation, political accountability and citizen participation.

The roundtable, held on March 3, 2009, was co-organized by Dr. Peter Bussjaeger of the Institute of Federalism, Innsbruck and the Forum of Federations as part of the Forum’s Global Dialogue program.

Participants included Sissi Auer, Institute of Federalism; Asita Djanani, Institute of Federalism; Gerold Glantschnig, Department for Constitutional Service on the Government of the Land Kärnten; Andreas Kiefer, Department of European Affairs of the Government of the Land Salzburg; Matthias Germann, Department of Legislation of the Land Vorarlberg; Karl Irresberger, Constitutional Service of the Federal Chancellery, Vienna; Eva Tobola, Ministry of Finances, Vienna; Anton Gstöttner, Constitution Department of the Land Tyrol; Robert Gmeiner, Connection Office of the Austrian Länder, Vienna; Christoph Konrath, Austrian Parliament, Vienna; Martin Huber, Association of Municipalities, Salzburg; Peter Brühwasser, Austrian League of Cities of Tyrol, Innsbruck; Anna Gamper, University of Innsbruck; Theo Oehlinger, University of Vienna; Ferdinand Karlhofer, University of Innsbruck; Franz Fallend, University of Salzburg; Erich Thöni, University of Innsbruck; Peter Pernthaler, University of Innsbruck; Carolin Zwilling, Institute for Federal Studies on Federalism and Regionalism, Bozen; Stefan Lütgenau, independent researcher / journalist; Niklas Sonntag, University of Innsbruck; Veronika Tiefenthaler, University of Innsbruck; Christian Ranacher, Office of the Land Government of Tyrol, Innsbruck; Valentina Schaumburger, University of Innsbruck; Felix Knüpling, Forum of Federations, Ottawa; and Thomas Pfisterer, Forum of Federations Switzerland.

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