Research project

The regulation of local debt in Europe

Local governments deliver a wide range of essential public services in any European country but are also strongly affected by increasing budgetary constraints. The regulation and supervision of local government finance is an interesting area of multi-level governance. As local authorities are not financially self-sufficient, higher levels of government not only provide financial means, but also need to supervise local spending and prevent financial failure. Although academic research on the regulation of local government finance is highly relevant, it has as yet been very limited. This new comparative public administration research project, a cooperation between the Hertie School and the Bertelsmann Foundation, aims to analyse both instruments and practices of local finance regulation in approximately twenty European countries. Based on budgetary data, this country-comparative research project investigates fiscal stability and major budgetary trends at the local government level in Europe, as well as the effects of the financial crisis and troika measurements.


This project is funded by the local government programme of the Bertelsmann Foundation (Gütersloh). 


First publications

Geissler, R./ Wegrich, K./ Hammerschmid G./Raffer C. (2018) The performance-accountability puzzle in local government finance: Why do Austrian and Dutch local governments comply with fiscal rules, but German’s tend to break them?, Research paper to be presented at the EGPA Conference, Lausanne.

Raffer, C./Hammerschmid G./Wegrich, K./Geissler R. (2018). The Effect of Fiscal Rules on Local Government Finances: A European Comparative Analysis. Research paper to be presented at the EGPA Conference, Lausanne.

Geissler, R. (2018): Hardest Cuts in living Memory. System und Krise der kommunalen Finanzen in England. Analysen und Konzepte Nr. 1/2018, Bertelsmann Foundation, Gütersloh.



January 2018 – June 2019


Project lead

Faculty and researchers

  • Kai Wegrich, Professor of Public Administration and Public Policy

  • Mark Hallerberg, Dean and Professor of Public Management and Political Economy

  • Christian Raffer, Research Associate, Financial Management und Public Administration


  • René Geißler, Senior Expert local finance, Bertelsmann Foundation

  • Christian Person, Research Associate, Public Administration, University of Konstanz