Any administrative supervision of local authorities may only be exercised according to such procedures and in such cases as are provided for by the constitution or by statute.
- In its Recommendation to member States on the supervision of local authorities’ activities CM/Rec(2019)3E46, the Committee of Ministers set out three different types of supervision: administrative, financial, and democratic, only the first of which falls within the ambit of Article 8 of the Charter. It does not apply to any form of supervision or control exercised by the Ombudsman, by criminal prosecutors or by the legislature. The existence of administrative supervision is justified by the need to comply “with the principles of the rule of law and with the defined roles of various public authorities, as well as the protection of citizens’ rights and the effective management of public property”.
- The Explanatory Report to the Charter limits the subject matter of Article 8 to the supervision that is carried out “by other levels of government”, that is to say, by central authorities or bodies (line ministries, Ministry of the Interior, and so forth) or regional authorities. As for the matters that can be “supervised”, the Charter refers to the broad concept of activities, which covers all types of plans, projects, rules, decisions or strategies approved at local level.
- The Charter establishes an important principle here in the area of intergovernmental supervision of local authorities: any form of such supervision must be provided for by the constitution or by statute, that is to say, the Charter introduces the legality principle into the supervision of a local authority. Supervision cannot be improvised or ordered by the higher level without a clear legal basis. At the same time, supervisory authorities must strictly comply with the procedures established by law for the exercise of such supervision (time, manner, competence, and so on)47.
- According to Article 144 of the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria (CRB) the central bodies of State and their local representatives shall exercise control over the legality of the acts of the bodies of local government only when authorised to do so by law. Article 145 of the CRB provides that every municipal council shall be free to challenge before a court any act which encroaches on its rights.
- The nature and scope of the administrative supervision of local authorities are specified in detail in the Local Government and Local Administration Act (LGLAAct. Article 45, paragraphs 1-12 of the LGLA Act provides the following mechanism for administrative supervision over the acts of local authorities.
• The acts of the mayor of a municipality can be appealed under administrative procedure before the regional governor, unless otherwise provided in a law.
• The municipal council can revoke administrative acts, issued by the mayor of a municipality, which disagree with acts, adopted by the council, within 14 days after their acceptance. Within the same term the council can dispute the unlawful administrative acts, issued by the mayor of a municipality, before the respective administrative court.The acts of the municipal council can be appealed before the respective administrative court.
• The regional governor shall exercise control for the lawfulness of the acts and actions of the local governments and the local administration (Art. 31, para. 1, item 5 of the Administration Act), unless otherwise provided in a law. He or she can bring the unlawful acts back for new consideration by the municipal council or to dispute them before the respective administrative court. The appeal shall suspend the application of individual and general administrative acts and the application of sub-legislative legal acts, unless otherwise resolved by the court.
• To all matters concerning issuing, appealing and implementation of acts of municipal councils and mayors, not covered herein, the provisions of administrative procedure, set in a law, shall be applied.
- Another important piece of legislation is the APC. The rules for the administrative procedure, established by law, shall be applied for the unsettled issues on the issuance, contestation and implementation of the acts of the municipal councils and the mayors. The APC provides for the possibility for any citizen of the municipality, including a mayor or municipal councillor, to contest an administrative act (according to Article 15, paragraph 1, of the APC, “parties in the administrative proceedings may be the administrative body, the prosecutor and any citizen or organisation, whose rights, freedoms or legitimate interests are or shall have been affected by the administrative act or by the court decision, or for whom they shall have raised rights or obligations”).
46 Recommendation CM/Rec(2019)3 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on supervision of local authorities’ activities (adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 4 April 2019 at the 1 343rd meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies). This recommendation includes an appendix with guidelines on the improvement of the systems of supervision of local authorities’ activities.
47 A contemporary commentary by the Congress on the explanatory report to the European Charter of Local Self-Government, adopted by the Statutory Forum on 7 December 2020, https://rm.coe.int/contemporary-commentary-by-the-congress-on-the-explanatory-report-to-t/1680a06149.