The global COVID-19 pandemic and the socio-economic crisis it has engendered have a strong territorial dimension with a profound impact on subnational governments. To better understand and assess it, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the CoR joined forces to carry out an online survey on "The impact of COVID-19 on regional and local governments: governance, finance and recovery plans". It gathered 300 responses from representatives of regional, intermediate, and municipal governments in 24 Member States of the EU.
The results of this survey were presented during the ECON Commission meeting on 19 November 2020 and are available below:
Survey results: Main findings (short version, available in all languages)
Survey results: Full results (long version)
Some highlights from the survey:
- The majority of respondents (63%) expect the COVID-19 crisis to have a significantly negative impact on subnational governments.
- Respondents report that a lack of technical means and equipment (“very challenging" for 46%), a paucity of financial resources at the subnational level (39%) and a lack of coordination with other levels of government (27%) are among the biggest challenges they face in managing the health crisis.
- Only about one-half of respondents state that coordination within subnational governments or with national governments is effective.
- In the short and medium-terms, most subnational governments expect the socio-economic crisis linked to COVID-19 to have a negative impact on their finances, with a dangerous "scissors effect" of increasing expenditure and falling revenues.
- About 86% of regions and cities expect a negative impact on their expenditures, especially a large increase in expenditures in the areas of social services (64%), social benefits (59%), support to SMEs and self-employed, and public health. Meanwhile, 90% forecast a decrease in revenue, in particular tax revenue and user charges and fees.
- At the time of the survey, about 24% of subnational governments planned to ask for new borrowing to cope with the crisis. The 13% of respondents had already applied for additional EU funds and 49% were considering to do so.
- Most subnational governments were still coping with the public health emergency at the time of the survey and few had begun to implement recovery measures, through public investment stimulus and direct support to the economy.
- The COVID-19 crisis presents decision-makers with an opportunity to reshape regional development policy. The top three priorities are ensuring affordable, accessible, and quality basic services, including health, across all territories (76%); increasing regional resilience (69%); and reducing the digital divide across regions (68%).