Any administrative supervision of the activities of the local authorities shall normally aim only at ensuring compliance with the law and with constitutional principles. Administrative supervision may however be exercised with regard to expediency by higher-level authorities in respect of tasks the execution of which is delegated to local authorities.
Although the Constitution recognised communes’ right to local self-government, it also introduced a supervisory procedure aimed at preventing communal decisions from undermining the fundamental interests of the state. That is why Article 107 of the Constitution also provides for oversight of communal administration. Such oversight, which the Ministry of the Interior said was due to be relaxed and simplified, is exercised by the Grand Duke and the Minister of the Interior, meaning that a form of “administrative supervision” is still in place.
The supervision thus exercised by the state authorities over the communes is regulated by statute, which envisages various measures for overseeing the activities of the communes. The law establishes various means of supervising the activities of communal authorities. The Directorate of Communal Affairs is mainly responsible for reviewing the legality of any acts or decisions of communes, groupings of communes or public institutions overseen by communes which are submitted to it. Power of approval is exercised in the cases expressly provided for by law.
In certain cases, the Minister of the Interior may take ex officio measures, for example, to rectify a communal budget that does not comply with the laws and regulations or that has not been put forward or approved within the prescribed time. He or she may also do so if the communal council seeks to avoid payment of mandatory costs which it is required to bear by law, by refusing to allocate all or some of those costs. If the college of the mayor and aldermen refuses or omits to authorise expenditure which the commune is required to bear by law, the Minister of the Interior may order that the expenditure be effected immediately. Likewise, if the college of the mayor and aldermen refuses or omits to draw up an order for outstanding revenue, the Minister of the Interior may order that the sum be recovered immediately. Lastly, in all cases where budgets, accounts or other documents are not submitted within the prescribed time, the Minister of the Interior may, in accordance with Article 108 of the Communal Law, appoint a special commissioner to carry out the outstanding work at the expense of the defaulting parties.
Supervision of persons may also be exercised in respect of individuals (suspension or dismissal of a mayor or alderman) or groups (dissolution of the communal council) and amounts to a disciplinary power. Supervision of individuals may be exercised only in respect of mayors and aldermen, who are instruments of local government and, at the same time, representatives of the state. It does not apply to communal councillors.
The provisions on financial supervision are found in Part 4 of the same law, under the heading “Communal accounts”. Here too, many communal authority decisions, such as approval of the budget and any amendments made thereto during the year, and adoption of the accounts, are subject to ministerial approval. At the same time, the Ministry of the Interior has an office responsible for carrying out on-site audits of local government accounts.
In the light of the above, the co-rapporteurs consider that the situation in Luxembourg only partially complies with Article 8.2 of the Charter.