Local authorities shall be consulted, insofar as possible, in due time and in an appropriate way in the planning and decision-making processes for all matters which concern them directly.
The Municipalities Act, the Regions Act and the Act on the Capital City of Prague each enshrine a general obligation of the State to consult with local self-governments on matters concerning them.
The Legislative Rules of the Government define the regions and associations of municipalities as ‘mandatory consultative bodies’. However, the only mandatory consultation included, refers to the preparation of legislation which refers to the independent or delegated competences of municipalities. Thus, when a government bill is being prepared which concerns the competences of the municipalities, the bill must be discussed with the regions, Prague, and associations representing the municipalities. It was also mentioned by interlocutors that sometimes local and regional authorities' comments are not considered, despite engagement in consultative processes.
Interlocutors referred to both formal and informal consultation processes with representatives of interest associations of municipal and regional self-governments or meetings with certain groups of representatives of local and regional authorities e.g., mayors, regional governors, secretaries of authorities. Representatives of the local authorities and their associations are full members of the Government Council for Public Administration which enables them to influence the processes and measures adopted. A Board of Deputy Ministers for Regulatory Reform and Effective Public Administration was established in 2007. Among its statutory members are the Union of Municipalities and the Association of Regions.
The obligatory impact assessment of new regulation requires examination of the impacts on local and regional authorities which usually involves consultation with them.
Involvement in EU and transnational programmes has enhanced consultation by involving regions, municipalities and communities in planning and implementation of the programmes.
The Covid 19 crisis uncovered some lacunae in the consultative processes. The approval of legislation in an "emergency regime" did not require mandatory consultation with the Union of Towns and Municipalities nor was it necessary to have thorough impact studies. This meant that municipalities were not always informed or aware of the financial implications of the adopted legislation. The lack of consultation about parliamentary proposals and emergency legislation which particularly impacts on local self-government was a concern for some interlocutors. It must be remembered, however, that as the Explanatory Report of the Contemporary Commentary on the Charter asserts ‘exceptional circumstances may override the consultation requirement particularly in cases of urgency’.
Many interlocutors drew attention to the legal obligations and institutionalised procedures for consultation and the active role of the representative bodies for municipalities and regions in consultation processes. Some interlocutors, however, perceived as ad hoc, the nature of some consultation e.g., on specific matters such as preparation of essential legislative documents or on non-legislative measures.
It is the opinion of the rapporteurs that statutory requirements for consultation are observed in the Czech Republic and there is general compliance with Article 4.6, but improvements should be made by expanding the formal mechanisms of consultation with local and regional authorities and their representative bodies, in particular, with regard to parliamentary proposals and emergency legislation which impacts on local self-government.