Terra Nova against the decentralizing “dogma”

In its report published Wednesday, January 13, entitled “After decentralization, 15 proposals to overhaul territorial action”, the Terra Nova think tank, of social democratic sensitivity, is not going by four ways. While the so-called “4D” bill must be presented to the Council of Ministers at the end of January – for decentralization, deconcentration, differentiation, decomplexification – its authors, Daniel Béhar and Aurélien Delpirou, do not hesitate to affirm, in opposition to the main associations of elected representatives grouped together within United Territories (Association of Mayors of France, Assembly of Departments of France and Regions of France), that “The question is not that of deepening decentralization”.

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“In a few years, the ‘defense of the territories’ has established itself as the mainstream of political thought in terms of public action”, note the authors, taking as an example the general policy statement pronounced on July 15, 2020 by Jean Castex, in which he cited the term “territories” no less than thirty times. Thus do they register against certain interpretations of the movement of “yellow vests” having seen a “Revenge of the territories”, opposing dynamic and globalized metropolises to ” peripheral devices “ left behind. “The question of territorial inequalities cannot be reduced to an opposition between a“ France of metropolises ”and a“ France of territories ””, they insist. In fact, it is in the large urban centers that the poverty rate is highest: 16.1%, against 14.3% on average in mainland France.

Two blocks of communities

Terra Nova vigorously slams the decentralizing “dogma”. “In the years 1960-1970, decentralization embodied a political promise”, say the authors. Today, [elle] is no longer a social issue, but becomes a matter of the distribution of skills “. They castigate the “Territorial Taylorism”, taken to its extreme by the NOTRe law of August 7, 2015, which assigns each administrative level to a specialization of skills. A principle they judge “Outdated, inefficient and counterproductive”. “What if we had to renounce the principle of specialization of competences standardized by the legislator and organize combinations of responsibilities and cooperation between territorial actors? “, they ask.

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