Research Network on Decentralisation and Subnational Governance in Southeast Europe established
European Research Academy Belgrade (EURAK) established the Research Network on Decentralisation and Subnational Governance in Southeast Europe in July 2016, with the support of the RRPP. The Network was established with the aim of bringing together researchers on decentralisation from SEE for closer cooperation, internal and external networking, further development of their expertise, as well as pooling of their research capacities and efforts in order to put decentralisation on the regional research and policy agenda, and finally, for increasing their joint research prospects, publishing potential, visibility, and policy impact.
In the first six months, the Network gathered prominent researchers and scholars on decentralisation and subnational governance from the region working for top public and private academic institutions and research centres in their respective countries. The Network ensures the excellence of its research by applying interdisciplinary and mixed-method social science research methodology. Network members have immediately recognised the importance of the Network and have set in motion a number of initiatives in order to access opportunities that would ensure the Network’s sustainability in the long run and make new regional research projects possible.
The Network has already held three workshops. At the first one the members identified a major problem in decentralisation and local service delivery in the Western Balkans – the imbalance between the transfer of functions on the one hand, and the transfer of funds to support these functions on the other. This divorce between functional and financial decentralisation jeopardises and compromises local public service delivery in practice. Thus, the Network decided to prepare an overview of the decentralisation processes and otherpolicy-relevant issues in SEE countries through a comparative study. This multi-country study will be published as an edited volume which will compile co-authored case studies of eight countries (from Slovenia to Albania) and compare decentralisation processes (fiscal decentralisation in particular) in SEE from the beginning of transition until today (1990-2016).
In addition to the assumed internal partnerships with the institutions with which members are affiliated, the Network has established at least three other important external institutional partnerships.
1. In order to increase international visibility of members and transpose the Network into the broader European Research Area, EURAK has become an institutional partner of the LSEE Research Network on Social Cohesion in South Eastern Europe. This partnership builds upon the previous successful collaboration with LSE. Members of the Network will present their ongoing research projects at the international conference of the LSEE Research Network on Social Cohesion in SEE in Skopje in April 2017.
2. The second partnership has been initiated with the Regional Studies Association (RSA), the most prominent global scientific organisation of scholars working on subnational governance issues. The RSA has invited the Network to be an active co-organiser and participant in its first international conference in SEE/CEE, which will take place in Romania in September 2017.
3. Research Network has also established co-operation with the Network of Association of Local Authorities of South East Europe (NALAS), which brings together sixteen associations that represent roughly 9,000 local governments from SEE. NALAS gathers experts on various aspects of decentralisation and local governance with tremendous technical experience. Network has become an academic ally to NALAS, with which it share a similar and complementary mission – to strive for evidence-based research and policy discussion.