Lecture: Municipalities as Legal Actors in Multi-Level Governance – the Example of Sweden

Pre-Event of the ICON.S AC Conference
“Public Law and Cities” (10/11.9.2024)

Prof. Dr. Henrik Wenander
Dean of the Faculty of Law
University of Lund (Sweden)

Date: 7.6.2024, 12:30 p.m.
Venue: Room L621, 6th floor | Faculty of Law | Sigmund Freud University | Lassallestraße 3, 1020 Vienna


The lecture is based on the article ‘By-passing the National Level? Municipalities as Legal Actors in Multi-Level Governance in Norway and Sweden’, which I published together with Sigrid Stokstad (Oslo) in REALaw. This article aims at illuminating the role of Swedish and Norwegian municipalities as legal actors in multi-level governance. The research question is threefold: What is the role of Swedish and Norwegian municipalities as legal actors in relation to the European level? How do these roles affect local autonomy at the national level? What is the impact of the different affiliations at the European level, Sweden’s full membership, and Norway only being a party to the EEA Agreement on these questions?

Previous research has shown that municipalities have been able to magnify their influence, both externally and internally, through the intermediary of the European Union. The ability to magnify their influence will depend on the national constitutional framework and the formal affiliation to the European level, among other things. In this study, the role of the municipalities in Norway and Sweden is described by analysing the constitutional position of municipalities at the national level, the municipal influence on the drafting of EU legislation, the Nordic municipalities as actors before the ECJ and the EFTA Court and the municipal implementation of EU/EEA law.

On a general level, the study found that the constitutional structures are mainly monolithic, although there are polycentric features. The ability of Norwegian and Swedish municipalities to by-pass national authorities is visible but cannot be described as strong. The role of the municipalities in acting at the European level is noteworthy, but the legal framework does not allow for a significant increase in local autonomy. The EEA affiliation of Norway implies that the municipalities have a weaker position at the European level.


Please register until 6.6.2024: konrad.lachmayer@jus.sfu.ac.at


Henrik Wenander is Professor of Public Law at the Faculty of Law at Lund University and currently serves as the Dean of the Faculty. His research focuses on European and international aspects of public law, especially in relation to Swedish administrative law. He publishes in English, Swedish, and German and has written on mutual recognition of administrative decisions, the constitutional position of public administration in the Nordic states, the Swedish monarchy, and Nordic legal cooperation. He is one of the editors of the peer-reviewed Swedish journal of administrative law, Förvaltningsrättslig tidskrift. From 2021 to 2023, he took part as an expert in the governmental inquiry on constitutional amendments for protecting the independence of courts in Sweden. He teaches Swedish and European public law.