38th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Europe Quo Vadis? - Regional Questions at the Turn of the Century", 28 August - 1 September 1998, Vienna, Austria
Intermediate territorial levels of government in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Spain are quite different regarding their basic institutions, devolved powers, revenue and public expenditure systems, public revenue equalization mechanisms, accountability, public performance management, financial control bodies, etc. In spite of the complexity derived from these different characteristics, the economic operation of such intermediate territorial levels of government can be analyzed, evaluated and compared from both the efficiency and equity viewpoints. >From the theory of fiscal federalism and the analysis and comparisons of the institutional and organization aspects, constitutions and basic laws, budgets, public accounts, etc. of such countries, and taking the European Union integration process into account - with present and future repercussions on powers of central and sub-central territorial levels of government of member countries -, this paper aims: first, to identify the main inefficiency and equity problems posed by each of the different sub-systems for financing the intermediate territorial levels of territorial government in these four countries; second, to present some criteria and useful indicators for assessing the economic operation of such levels of government in a simple, significant and standardized way; third, to advance estimates concerning some economic indicators; fourth, to draw up some conclusions for improving economic efficiency in the allocation of public resources among levels of government and inter-territorial equity. The methodology, solutions and reforms proposed are of general interest for other European countries planning to create or develop their own intermediate territorial levels of government. Keywords: fiscal federalism, intermediate governments.