Međuopštinska saradnja kao oblik decentralizovanog vršenja javnih poslova
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Inter-municipal cooperation (IMC), as a form of decentralized implementation of public services and as a part of the local government system, is seen as a means to ensure balanced regional development, better quality of public services, as well as a way to adjust the needs of government organization to the needs of a society, with respect to its structural characteristics and needs. In this paper, the basic forms of inter-municipal cooperation, subjects of cooperation, ways in which the cooperation operates, areas in which the cooperation is achieved, nature of the jurisdiction, financing and management methods, affecting factors, and the specific advantages and disadvantages of this form of decentralized implementation of public services are specified, through the analysis of relevant international documents from this field, experiences and practices from different European countries, as well as normative frameworks and practices of inter-municipal cooperation in Serbia. Bearing in mi...nd that the practice of inter-municipal cooperation has not sufficiently come to life in Serbia, and that there is a number of questions related to it and to the other aspects of decentralization, this research is intended to boost the intensive progress of inter-municipal cooperation in Serbia, as a means to improve the decentralization of public services, and also to overcome the problems local governments are facing. The author finds that, unlike alternative solutions, inter-municipal cooperation preserves local autonomy, strengthening the capacity at the local level and ensuring the implementation of territorial reforms that are conducted "from below", according to the needs of the citizens. Inter-municipal cooperation, regardless of its form, is a type of decentralized implementation of public services. Although it is suspected that the certain form of concentration is achieved through integrated forms of cooperation, these tasks are still performed within a level that is not central; the state does not take any additional role, which would reduce the degree of independence of the entities that are not central, i.e. reduce the decentralized character of these services, or which would strengthen the centralizing tendencies of the state or strengthen state control. In Europe, you can see many examples of very effective cooperation, which has proved to be a solution not just for many structural problems of local government, but also for the vertical government organization in general. IMC provided the solutions that alternatively required radical changes in the territorial organization. Also, IMC proved to be a mechanism that provided regional policy, development goals, public-private partnerships and territorial harmonization. The existing legislative framework of inter-municipal cooperation in Serbia mainly emphasizes voluntary cooperation of individual local governments, without a hint of a widespread or better controlled integration. Apart from the fact that the obligatory cooperation is only an exception, even some of the fundamental questions of its establishment and implementation are not regulated. The need for cooperation consists mainly in providing the regional services and equitable development, in overcoming the limitations, as well as in the more adequate use of local capacities. However, the regulatory framework does not provide a reliable basis for the establishment of high quality, durable and effective partnerships. Given the existence of asymmetric decentralization, one-level local governments, uneven capacities, as well as the development of decentralized units in Serbia, some of the solutions of inter-municipal cooperation can be considered a means of ensuring regional requirements in countries that are characterized by similar solutions, i.e. problems, without any change in the constitutional concept of decentralization. The main areas where the promotion of decentralized systems can be established are regional and spatial development planning, public utility services, tourism, civil and environment protection services, local governments and so on.