A case initiated with respect to administrative territorial changes in Limbaži Region
On 16 July 2020, the 2nd Panel of the Constitutional Court initiated the case “On Compliance of Sub-para 35.4. of “Annex to the Law on Administrative Territories and Populated Areas “Administrative Territories, Administrative Centres thereof and the Units of Territorial Division”” with Article 1, the First Part of Article 101 of the Satversme and the Sixth Part of Article 4 and Article 5 of the European Charter of Local Self-Government”.
The Contested Norm
Sub-para 35.4. of “Annex to the Law on Administrative Territories and Populated Areas “Administrative Territories, Administrative Centres thereof and the Units of Territorial Division”” provides that Skulte rural municipality is part of Saulkrasti Region.
The Norms of Higher Legal Force
Article 1 of the Satversme of the Republic of Latvia (hereafter – the Satversme): “Latvia is an independent democratic republic.”
The first part of Article 101 of the Satversme: “Every citizen of Latvia has the right, as provided for by law, to participate in the work of the State and of local government, and to hold a position in the civil service.”
The sixth part of Article 4 of the European Charter of Local Self-Government (hereafter – the Charter) “Scope of local self-government”: “Local authorities shall be consulted, insofar as possible, in due time and in an appropriate way in the planning and decision-making processes for all matters which concern them directly.”
Article 5 of the Charter “Protection of local authority boundaries”: “Changes in local authority boundaries shall not be made without prior consultation of the local communities concerned, possibly by means of a referendum where this is permitted by statute.”
The case was initiated on the basis of an application by the Limbaži Regional Council (hereafter – the Council). On 10 June 2020, the Saeima adopted the Law on Administrative Territories and Populated Areas. The Annex to the Law defining the administrative territories, their administrative centres and the units of territorial division. In accordance with sub-para 25.4. of this Annex, Skulte rural municipality is part of Saulkrasti Region.
The Council notes that the boundary of Limbaži self-government’s administrative territory had been changed by the contested norm, dividing off Skulte municipality of Limbaži Region and adding it to the newly established Saulkrasti region. The Council points out that, in changing the boundaries of the administrative territory, the opinion of Limbaži Region’s community had not been identified also the information provided by several institutions had not been taken into account. The Council holds that the contested norm obviously and substantially violates the principles of good legislation, self-governance and proportionality. The contested norm is said to be incompatible with Article 1, the first part of Article 101 of the Satversme as well as the sixth part of Article 4 and Article 5 of the Charter.
The Legal Proceedings
The Constitutional Court has requested the Saeima to submit a written reply on the facts of the case and the legal reasoning by 16 September 2020.
The term for preparing the case is 16 December 2020. The Court will decide on the type of procedure and the date for hearing the case after it has been prepared.
Linked case: 2020-37-0106