The absence of coordination between municipalities of a the same metropolitan crown affects the implementation of policies of economic development and the provision of public goods and services at the national level. local. Metropolitan governance is, from an economic point of view, a ideal instrument to solve coordination problems interinstitutional.

On the one hand, the municipalities that make up an area metropolitan areas usually do not have sufficient scale to provide some services efficiently (the most usual case is the treatment and management of waste), and the possibility of associating with other municipalities to Supplying them together reduces your supply costs.

On the other hand, the policies and initiatives of a municipality can cause negative externalities on other municipalities in the metropolitan area, or on the policies adopted in other sectors. so, in the definition of the different land uses at the municipal level exist evident lack of inter-institutional coordination that derives in notable costs for public bodies and, ultimately, for citizens.

In the absence of institutions and mechanisms for coordination at the metropolitan level, the administrative fragmentation of the city ​​(determined not only by the existence of different municipalities, but also by regional or state powers) leads to the lack of a long-term strategic vision for the development of the metropolitan area that unite land use policies and transport and housing policies.

Empirical evidence provided by the OECD (What makes cities more productive?Evidencefromfive OECD countrieson the role of urbangovernance) shows that the fragmentation of metropolitan governance is correlated with lower levels of productivity and lower rates of economic growth. In turn, the existence of formal metropolitan government institutions is associated with greater citizen satisfaction in areas such as public transport and environmental management.

Administrative fragmentation and labor productivity by cities

Source: Ahrend, R., Farchy, E., Kaplanis, I., & Lembcke, A. C. (2017). What makes cities more productive? Evidence from five OECD countries on the role of urban governance. Journal of Regional Science, 57 (3), 385-410.

Despite the evidence, the political system still hasn’t has responded to this metropolitan phenomenon, squandering the great opportunity to generate an urban system according to the reality of the main Spanish cities.

Despite the fact that the powers in the creation, modification and suppression of metropolitan areas correspond to the Autonomous Communities, only the Parliament of Catalonia has exercised this power in a constructive way (since most of the regional parliaments, including that of Catalonia, the metropolitan governments were abolished in the 1980s), creating the Barcelona Metropolitan Area (2011).

The rest of the metropolitan areas are institutionally fragmented, without comprehensive metropolitan institutions. Therefore, institutional reforms are urgently needed to deepen the metropolitan nature of our cities in order to take advantage of greater inter-institutional coordination. Three concrete steps can help guide effective metropolitan governance reforms: identifying concrete metropolitan projects, designing metropolitan incentives, and strengthening metropolitan financing.

Juan Capeáns

Urban Economist