Local and national governance
Discussion of the relationship between higher levels of government and the city of Berlin. How does this multi-level governance condition affect that city’s ability to govern locally and operate globally?
Essay 2008 3 Pages
Task: Whether in unitary or federal systems, cities are generally treated as ‘creations’ of higher levels of government and are relegated to a subordinate position when it comes to governing cities. Discuss the relationship between higher levels of government and one city in your region. How does this multi-level governance condition affect that city’s ability to govern locally and operate globally? (500 words).
Germany is a leading country when it comes to environmentalism and climate protection, having laid down the protection of the natural basis of life in its national constitution (Article 20a Grundgesetz) in 2002. Meanwhile, the creation of an environmentally sustainable future has also become one of the primary goals within the European Union. With reference to the German capital Berlin I will illustrate how the multi-level governance condition between this city and the EU/Germany affects Berlin’s ability to govern locally and operate globally as to environmental protection.
On concrete example is the recent EU-decision on stricter parameters as to climate protection which includes aerial limits for particulate matter from 2010 onwards, because the EU has committed to a 20 percent reduction (relative to 1990 levels) in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 (see Spiegel Online 2008). For that reason, the EU as Europe’s highest level of governance has set a binding framework, which must now be transformed into national law by all member states. As it is cities and communes that consume a lot of energy, and thus contribute emissions to a large extent, the German federal government decided that these are the appropriate localities to pursue concrete and adequate policies. Hence, it gives leeway on how to design specific mechanisms for implementing the EU-requirements, supporting the processes by means of financial support and advisory assistance.
Berlin e.g. passed the so called Landesenergieprogramm 2006-2010 (Berlin.de 2006) – a program focused on climate protection through the implementation of a respective energy policy. This program was developed in close cooperation with interested citizens, environmental NGOs and trade associations, and finally presented within a public hearing to coordinate with the residents’ needs. In this case, the policies got the residents’ general approval.
However, especially with regard to global economic competitiveness, measures are not always designed in mutual consent. Resistance arose, when as of 1st January 2008, Berlin introduced the conception of a so called Umweltzone (green zone) where only cars with a green environmental badge can enter the city center in order to the 20 percent reduction norm. This indicates the performance of a very difficult balancing act between environmental and industrial policy. On the one hand, Berlin has to secure its attractiveness for investment and business in order to “survive” in global competition, on the other hand it has to follow the given requirements by the higher-levels.