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Political management based on economic stringency and strategic budgets

From EPSA - European Public Sector Award

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Award winner

Despite the current global economic crisis, which has led to a widespread increase in public deficit and borrowing, Bilbao was the regional capital in Spain with the least debt, €3.94 million, thanks to the enormous efforts made in recent years to fight heavy municipal borrowing (€200 million in 1999). Bilbao’s economic situation in 2011 can be considered to be extremely favourable: Bilbao is the only large municipality at national level that is debt-free (zero debt as of April 2011). The city has come a long way from the 1980s, when it was immersed in a profound crisis and decline, which it has managed to overcome almost 30 years later, reinventing itself as a city, and adapting to the new times. Bilbao has based its transformation on the changeover from its industrial past to an economy based on the Tertiary Sector. This transformation has been achieved through support for emerging sectors with a high level of R+D+I. This dramatic urban transformation enables Bilbao to face the challenge of becoming a knowledge society city from a certain position of comparative advantage. To this end, it has designed a strategy based on an economy in which productivity, creativity, new technologies, innovation, emerging clusters and international networks prevail.

Bilbao City Council has designed a strategy based on economic austerity and stringency for its political management, enabling it to respond to the commitments acquired to citizens, through ongoing monitoring of the actions developed with as much transparency as possible, fostering citizen participation and seeking ’zero’ public borrowing. The strategic planning is based on two tools which allow for progress, not only in efficiency and good political management, but also in ensuring transparency and the trust of citizens: Governance Plan 2007-2011 and Strategic Budgets. The monitoring and control of the level of progress of Bilbao City Council’s Governance Plan 2007-2011, which provides a full view of the actions developed based on the management structure and the indicators defined in the Plan: for this purpose, both the System of Indicators defined by the City Council Departments and the analysis of the focal points, objectives and strategic action lines adopted for the current legislature have been used. The economic crisis situation has led Bilbao City Council to adjust the municipal budget since 2009 in anticipation of a worsening of this situation. Given the severity and far-reaching effects of the crisis, Bilbao City Council has approved the Efficiency and Austerity Plan as an additional tool to help its management, including measures focusing on the limitation and reduction of spending, intending to use the different municipal resources in such a way as to increase the efficiency of the City Council without affecting effectiveness in the fulfilment of objectives and the sustainability of the municipal finances through the introduction of austerity criteria in municipal spending. For this purpose, Bilbao City Council’s Efficiency and Austerity Committee (CEA) has been set up for the preparation, coordination and monitoring of a municipal programme that has been specifically prepared for its adaptation to this situation. In recent years, Bilbao City Council has implemented different initiatives of a permanent nature to improve transparency for citizens and it has also promoted and developed its own participation model for the citizens of Bilbao, through the District Councils. As a result of this, Bilbao has been awarded several international prizes in recognition of its integrated and holistic approach to urban transformation (LeeKuanYew WorldCity Prize).

Award info
Award category: smart public service delivery
Award type: award
Award year: 2011
Project type
Sector: Public administration, modernisation, institutional affairs, reform
Type of activity:
Keywords: Political management, economic stringency, strategic budgets
Short English description: To this end, it has designed a strategy based on an economy in which productivity, creativity, new technologies, innovation, emerging clusters and international networks prevail.
Further information
Organisation: Bilbao City Council
Other applicants:
Homepage: http://www.bilbao.net
Level of government: local level
Size of organisation: >100
Number of people involved: >15
Country: Spain
EU membership: EU member
Language code: en
Start date:
End date:


Political management based on economic stringency and strategic budgets (43.2641159, -2.9231264)
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