Estonian regional affairs minister Siim Kiisler said that the preparations of the Estonian administrative reform will be based on the model of regional centres, as the result of which 30-50 new municipalities should emerge, LETA/Postimees Online reports.
Kiisler said at a press conference on Wednesday that the ministry has considered six possible models: mini-municipalities, municipality alliances, parishes, regional centres and counties Estonia, and two-level state.
He said that feedback was asked from several institutions, local municipalities and experts. 67% of the responses considered the regional centres model the best.
Kiisler said that the majority of county governments, a third of municipalities and the majority of experts supported the regional centres model and thus, the ministry will take that as the basis for further actions.
Kiisler said that this means that he state will determine regional centres around which merger of current municipalities takes place. Municipalities can choose their partners voluntarily.
As the result of the mergers, 30–50 new municipalities would emerge which mostly wouldn’t have less than 10,000 inhabitants. The municipalities would continue carrying on the same tasks as now, but a part of the state's tasks could be given to them. County governments would continue mostly in a supervising role.
There are over 200 local municipalities in Estonia and in a half of them, than 1,800 people live, which means that it is difficult for the municipality to carry out the tasks it is supposed to, considering that it gets its financing mainly from the income tax of its residents. Thus for several years now, municipalities have been encouraged to merge, but few have done so far.