Local Governments in Turkey During The Process of Adaptation to the European Union



Public administration at central and local bodies encounters serious problems and bottlenecks such as inefficient and cumbersome bureaucracy which is failure contemporary needs and providing services, inadequately participation to management of the public, reach greater heights of ethical issues due to the lack of effective supervision openness, interruption to occur between governing and managed. These problems cause that in the public sector restructuring have moved almost the agenda of all sectors in society, this issue demands and pressures had intensified. Nowadays, as a result of globalization and localization in dynamic effects, it is possible to establish a management system that it is tried to provide transparent accountable efficient and optimal institutional structure formed, developed and democratic participation mechanisms which can respond to the expectations of people. It is observed that local government come to a more prominent position in this progress because local governments are closest public bodies to the citizens. European Union, this will bring alignment and liabilities, restructuring of local government makes more important. The local government system in Turkey since 2003 of legislation to the transformation is of great importance in terms of the process of signification and creation of a decentralized structure. The central government is experiencing a shift towards to local government. The European Union does not propose a specific format about the local government, but it has to be appreciation Europe Union of the status and functioning. For the implementation of common policies of the Union, which implements the standard, on the basis of efficiency and productivity is essential to have a functioning management system. EU has no authority to determine the internal management system or the status of local and regional authorities of the European member states. Local government is at the discretion of the member states of the organization. However, local and regional governments, in many areas, (education, health, employment, environment, social policy, regional development, consumer rights, public procurement, etc.) are responsible for the implementation of the EU acquit. Local and regional governments are essential part of fulfilling a duty, the EU system and implementing EU policies and initiatives as well as providing citizens to believe the legality of the union. Points to be harmonized with the EU standards nearly extend to all areas of political and social life. Local governments are included into this.  Looking to the Turkish administration every country as well as at two levels organized seen: central and local. Management structure in Turkey until 2004 excess (solid) emerges as a centralized structure. Center management has conducted most of the public service when looking at the distribution responsibilities between central government and local governments’ authorities and services in Turkey. Besides, local governments only limited services fulfilled. Therefore, local governments’ impact on the country’s leadership has been negligible. Central government powers are transferred to local authorities such as (authority, personnel, financial resources, and any other elements of the local government with the transfer); it is intended to affective local government anymore. Thus, central government has decreased power in the management until 2004 legislative reforms. There is no doubt that localization and regional policy play important role in the European Union and turkey try to adopt this perception and application and it make necessary laws about field of local governments’ duties and responsibilities. In this context, the approved Municipal Law (5393), Metropolitan Municipal Law (5216), Special Provincial Administration Law (5302), and they constitute the framework of Basic Principles of Public Administration and Restructuring Act (5227), this provides that Turkish local government system, which dominates the central-local government relations is changing the traditional trends. Local governments have been strengthened in the face central in terms of administrative, political and fiscal management. Local government will ensure the more modern and democratic.

The arrangements of Local governments will generally fall into four categories.

1- ) In the light of the Central-local relations, local government has ceased to be an extension of the central government. The arrangements made bring regulations about local governments promoting political nature, highlighting the political aspects of the local council. “Partnership” model between local government and central government; we can observe that there is a movement towards.

2- ) Co-management has a chance to practice in recent years. In this context, “the establishment of the City Council is a positive development.

3- ) Local governments are seen in the practical solutions for the problems occurring. Arrangements such as raising the minimum population criteria for the establishment of municipalities, the introduction of public auditors in local governments are practical solutions to problems.

4- ) Last dimension in the EU accession process to the EU norms has been targeted as the general purpose arrives. Posited within the scope of local governments in Turkey are the targets specified in the national program.

European Union Accession Process Official Documents about Local Government

Historically, external influences and factors have played an important role change ushers in the Ottoman Empire and also its subsequent, Turkey.  Both external and internal reasons have been effective in the transition to a multiparty political system. Changes in society in Turkey started / continued most probably the most important factor is the European Union candidacy. Turkey prepared ”National Program “for compliance with standards and institutions related to ”road map “prepared by the EU with EU law which are the most important factors that lead to institutional and constitutional change. These two documents are also put forward the principles of good governance. It emphasizes the need for effective functioning of the state. It refers to areas and institutions needed reform. One of these areas is a priority of public administration in general and, in particular local governance. Sustaining the EU negotiation process is important to be the result from implementation of public sector reform. This creates a favorable environment and assumes a facilitative function. This process continued without any delay, it will be an important contribution to be shared authorities and responsibilities between central and local governments, also restructuring of the public administration. On the other hand, EU process will serve as an anchor to stand behind the reforms and to prevent retroactive application. The Ankara Agreement was signed in 1963, the Additional Protocol signed in 1970, the application for full membership in 1987, the Customs Union in 1995 provided, and finally adopted by the 1999 Helsinki Summit status of candidate country show the distance towards the European Union. After obtaining the status of candidate country; it began to be shaped by a number of plans and programs such as the relations between Turkey and the European Union Accession Partnership, the National Programme Monitoring Reports, Pre-Accession Economic Programme and the National Development Plan. In this context, legislation and institutional structure of our country into the European Union has emerged as an essential element of compliance. It has focused on ensuring within the framework of the Copenhagen political and economic criteria and alignment with the acquit in the field of multi-faceted efforts. The European Commission prepares a report assessing the progress for each candidate country for membership in the preparation process every year. European Commission, “Progress Report” are prepared to be based on the information presented by the Turkish government , reports and decisions of the European Parliament and of the Council of Europe in particular, the OSCE and international organizations, including international financial institutions and civil society organizations. The first progress report on Turkey published in 1998; it was followed by reports published in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 , 2009..etc.

According to the progress report next year, first Progress Report on the 1998 Progress Report are also discussed with a relatively short assessment tasks of public administration and local authorities within their field. The analysis in the report is as follows: functioning of the public administration is satisfactory; corruption and nepotism are common; inter-regional inequality is high and regional development level is much lower than the Community average. A satisfactory comparison about the differences in regional development cannot be made, because of not received enough data from the Turkish authorities.                                                                                 

 1999 Progress Report is stated that Turkey lived the most serious regional problems in all candidate countries. Unlike other candidate countries, Turkey is implementing a regional policy for many years. However, this policy has been implemented in the framework of a centralized planning system.

Therefore, the regional dimension, in the priorities of public investment budget isn’t taken into account explicitly (The use of regional indicators in the selection of projects is not mentioned). In addition, the service in charge of regional policy has too few staff. (25 officers) and has no representatives in the regions. It will need to be given priority at a high level to the creation of an efficient regional policy for lagging regions. Turkey’s significant human and financial resources is allocated in this area, by improving administrative procedures and structures functional areas, establishing priorities to address the adaptation of the central administration is required.

2000 Progress Report stated that there are no a significant changes on the regional and local government level. Central government control over local government continues to be strong. More aimed at decentralization and is still being discussed among ministries; local government bill has not yet been adopted.

Although there is a regional policy in Turkey, the preparation for the implementation of structural policies in the true sense has not started yet. Regarding regional organization, Turkey should offer a NUTS classification which plays an important role in the implementation of structural policies, especially in the NUTS 2 level, compatible with Community rules. There are an important regional issues and sizes in turkey, although there is no effective policy for them. Regional development authorities are not available. Community standards in line with the strengthening of regional policy should be given high priority to be modernized to close large differences between regions. The European Commission was firstly adopted Accession Partnership for Turkey on 8 March 2001. This document has been prepared on the basis of the advice in the 2000 Progress Report such as the short-term political, structural and legislative changes, the medium-term political, economic and social policy changes which are required to be done.

The European Commission made changes, based on progress Report of October 2002 and Accession Partnership for Turkey revised and re-posted on 26 March 2003. The European Commission prepared Accession Partnership Document in 2006 and 2008 after following the document published first document. Short-term objectives located in the 2001 Accession Partnership in the chapter “Regional Policy and Coordination of Structural Elements” are listed under the following criteria: Preparation of a NUTS classification in accordance with Community rules, A strategy for the development of an effective regional policy adoption, Turkey’s regional policy criteria in the selection of projects in the planning process to begin their use.

“Strengthening administrative and judicial capacity” under the short-term objectives are listed at the following goals: Including strengthening the relevant administrative bodies to accelerate the modernization of public administration, medium-term targets of the same title at the completion of the regional reform and develop the concept of regional and municipal management, existing administrative structures dealing with regional development objectives include strengthening. Turkey has prepared a National Programme for the adoption of the acquit like all the candidate countries and presented to the European Commission on 19 March 2001. National Programme which specified Turkey’s Accession Partnership responsibilities and duties in detail was adopted by the Council of Ministers in March 2001. VIII. Five-Year Development Plan which has been identified priorities and objectives Turkey’s next five-year period comply with National Programme prepared by the Turkey. There are complementary to each other.

 National Programme of local government tasks are specified in the following way:                 1- ) implementation of activities related to Regional development planning

2- ) Leadership role in entrepreneurial activities on a regional basis

3- ) ensuring the necessary information about Development activities.

Additional responsibilities and specific tasks to local governments can be given by some ministries through regional units. Provincial Bank also serves as an efficient institution for the development of Villages and cities.

VIII. Five-Year Development Plan on Local Authorities is given legal and institutional arrangements to be made. Accordingly, Central and local administrations will be provided with a structure based on division of labor and coordination within a unitary structure according to the principle of the integrity of administration. Duties, powers, responsibilities and resources sharing and organization of local administrations, financial and personnel structure between central and local administration will be reorganized. Legislation will be made Special Provincial Administration and County Local Government Model. Municipality and the Municipality of the model will be rearranged. The regulations will be made on ensure participation community planning, implementation and control processes in Local government.

The publication of the first Accession Partnership Progress Report of 2001 has drawn attention to the some measures such as in the government’s 2001 economic program to strengthen good governance and anti-corruption by referring to widespread corruption and heavy bureaucracy in the functioning of public administration in Turkey, transparency and accountability providing the allocation of resources in the public sector.

Report  highlighted that here is no development in the areas of regional statistics about Regional policy and coordination of structural instruments in relation to the goals related to corporate tools, programming, monitoring, financial management, auditing. It is mentioned that SPO carry out regional policy framework of central planning. Outside of this institution but GAP region, a practitioner outside of this institution of a unit in Ankara doesn’t exist still. It is mentioned that preparations for the implementation of the structural funds has not yet started. It is also stated that the establishment of regional development authority at the district level.

According to the 2002 Progress Report, there is a need to develop structures for the implementation of structural policies needed to be organized in Turkey. There should be target combating regional disparities in Turkey. Socio-economic empowerment of solidarity and a more comprehensive long-term strategy should be created. Inter-provincial coordination, preparation of integrated regional development plans, regional distribution of public investment and priority areas of regional aid in accordance with the EC competition rules should be used for the purpose of identification. Turkey should provide inter-ministerial coordination and participation at every stage of planning. Regional development, the central and regional level (in other words, at NUTS 2 level through the establishment of regional development units) should strengthen the administrative structures which will execute. A National Development Plan aimed at reducing regional disparities through a national policy for economic and social cohesion and the creation of regional development plans at NUTS 2 level will be started. It should be the adoption of the legal framework which is suitable with European acquires, also priority criteria for public investment rules that determine the creation of multi-year budgeting. The administrative structures should be strength for the management of Regional development. After the 2003 Accession Partnership has prepared a National Programme of Turkey.

Local Government Reforms include statements regarding:

There is a strong centralized and local government employee’s work with insufficient local resources, so our country is a party from European Charter of Local Self-Government by signing it and it is envisaged that our local government restructure again according to this agreement. In this context, powers and duties of local authorities rather than counted as flavor, The duties and functions of the central administration to be determined, all remaining local and common tasks and services will be under the responsibility of local governments. After the local government reforms to be made; local governments will be restructured as contemporary administrative units for local and common areas make their own decisions in matters of needs to be met, resources, forming implementing projects and open to the supervision of the citizens in accordance with national and regional plans, principles and standards to be determined by the central government.

The obstacles encountered in the context of local government in the Turkey’s EU process

1- ) unlike west, local governments in Turkey didn’t emerge as powerful autonomous units.

2- ) Again, in the presence of a strong centralized bureaucracy is another obstacle.

3- ) a reform which isn’t based on a strategy is another problem

4- ) often living the political and economic crises in our country.

5- ) the lack of qualified public officials of local government units

6- ) Separatist movements and the principle of decentralization undermine concern of the nation-state.

7- ) increase of corruption in local and central government.

😎 Be large disparities between regions.

9- ) Lack of adequate enforcement of the principle of openness in management.

10- ) Problems stemming from the constitutional jurisdiction

11- ) Hometown-awareness cannot be created.

When AKP came to power in 2003, it has indicated that its program include the restructuring of the public administration. It has announced the strengthening of local government. It tried to be minimized is a continuation of the idea of ​​the state like Ozal government’s free market economy that began in the early 1980s, neo-liberalism. Centralized administrative structure which has 200 years has undergone a radical change towards in place semi-centralized management with the new public management reforms in Turkey. The new legal arrangements have been made to local governments. Recently metropolitan law was enacted last year. Brought (to be studied) arrangements, the center and local governments don’t appear to each alternative, and distribution division of tasks among them is highlighted. A natural extension of the partnership model and strong institutions of decentralization which is seen in many European countries is also included on the principle of general jurisdiction to our local government.  Thus, local governments will make the task, kinds of local services which exclude law determined. It may be expressed that Subsidiarity constitutes an important aspect of the Maastricht Treaty (subsidiarity) is compatible, also the arrangements made in this direction is suitable with the principles of European Charter of Local Self-Government. The subsidiarity principle is one of the central principles in the EU context, laying down that political decisions in the EU must always be taken at the lowest possible administrative and political level, and as close to the citizens as possible. Other than the areas where the EU has exclusive competence, this means that the EU can only act if it would be better to implement the legislation in question at EU rather than at national, regional or local level. This principle is claimed to be a function of the EU glue. Turkey which has a centralized structure is difficult to apply this principle. It is likely to lead to some problems in our country. Strong mayor Located in the center does not want to share power with other authorities. If everyone has in an equal position local decision making progress, multiple centers can occur. This idea cannot be said that local management structure produces only limited services as an extension to the idea of the central government now. Local governments are a need to be transparent to democratic and participatory institutions. It can be said that local governments are at the heart of local democracy. Teleological qualified principles such as sustainability, livability, equity are important, also instrumental principles such as civic engagement, enablement, and governance are important. These principles should be in reforms.

First time in 2005 Progress Report “public administration” under different headings and are extensively evaluated. There are structural problems in front of Rationalization, decentralization of Turkish public administration. Decentralization of the public administration has not developed an adequate level because of both units (singular) state monopoly reflex as well as the central government. Explain in writing the reasons for the veto of the President examination unit (singular) are seen to be at the forefront of the state structure.

President veto on draft law on public administration in the grounds; management system to switch to an unforeseen Contrary to the constitution, constitutions principles such as singular transfer model, the integrity of the administration, width authority ,administrative tutelage  are broken. Vulnerable situation of East and Southeast Anatolia regions are seen to be caused the institutional and legal constraints. EU anticipated for an efficient public administration; decentralization, decentralization, transparency, accountability and results orientation in services cannot be easily carried out because of serious reasons about turkey’s political and social-economic.

In the 2006 Progress Report on public administration and local government ratings are as follows: Overall, some legislative progress in public administration reform has been made. Implementation of reforms adopted in the past years has been continued.  Further efforts are needed to show decentralization. Thus, devolution of powers from the central government to local governments has not been realized.


Effective approach of Turkish public administration is centralism. Institutions of central government are dominant solving problems and making decisions in public. In this case, this situation brings bureaucracy which creates quite a problem in solving problems and evaluation of problems. Central to long bureaucratic process installs a heavy workload, as a result of the result of the central government. Also, the provision of essential local services is making it difficult. Centralized management was preferred to provide Political unity and solidarity, and decision-makers to gather in one central location for services. However, place of management systems has necessitated the emergence because of an increase in the waiting area of problems and services, besides central management, because decentralization is to be closer to the local population. Problems can be seen more quickly and more relaxed and faster, experience could pass the required solutions. The most important benefit of local administration is open to public participation, this is more democratic, in additional to reducing Paperwork, bureaucracy. The central government has reduced the political power and unity because of decentralization. This leads to a deterioration of concern in fully uncompleted the process of democratization in countries like Turkey. Besides changing challenges and expectations of the public service system of local government, the process of globalization bears on the agenda. Globalization is affecting many areas such as Industry, employment, technology, manufacturing. Central has to give authority to local governments in order to meet the changing needs of the public. Thus, globalization supports localization. These processes have gained great importance in our country, especially the municipalities. It is possible to see that the importance of the municipalities increased European Union member states, so weight of central public administration diminishes. Turkey had to make new reform about public administration, especially local governments during progress of EU and also globalization forces turkey about reform localization and turkey has made important reform and law arrangements to comply with EU’s acquires and globalization ‘effects. Transparent democratic local governments provide public participation. It is provided that people find solutions to their problems. There is no doubt that this causes center’s workload to reduce.


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Apan, Ahmet “AB Mevzuatında Yerellik (Subsıdiarity) İlkesi”,

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