The CEFG Group aims to establish a space for mutual learning in the field of economic and financial governance and to generate comparable financial and accounting data among European cities and to enhance and advocate for the effectiveness, efficiency and accountability of local public sector management. The CEFG Group unites larger European cities that aim towards a different way of doing politics - politics that are committed to quality management, sustainability and liquidity of public sector finances as guarantors of Europe's economic competitiveness, its social policies and thus ultimately the wellbeing of their citizens.
The unique CEFG approach
The city members meet twice per year in one of the partner cities. Through practical presentations, discussions and a challenge/based approach (“Please help sessions“) a balanced mix of external input and mutual (internal peer) learning is established. Also, what makes this approach unique is the fact that each city prepares an input (“home-work”) prior to the respective meeting. At the end of each meeting joint lessons learned are captured and shared among the members and participants.
The beginning: 2014-2015
The CEFG Group was initiated by the City of Barcelona (ES) and EIPA Barcelona. It was officially launched in June 2014 together with the Cities of Dublin (IE), Hamburg (DE), the City of London (UK), Milan (IT) and Vienna (AT), representing approximately 30 million inhabitants in their metropolitan areas.
The CEOs/CFOs and finance managers of the partner cities embarked in their first four meetings to discuss and analyze such burning issues as their budget practices and integrated financial management systems, the financial accounting practices in relation to the European Public Sector Accounting Standards (EPSAS), as well as national and European accounting systems leading ultimately to examine the effects on economic development and growth.
The final output of the first two years of the CEFG Group cooperation - the Standardized financial report and 10 financial health KPIs for City Governments in Europe - is unique in Europe as it is the first time that cities embarked on the challenging undertaking to produce a joint financial balance sheet in view of harmonizing their accounting practices and reliably comparing their financial performance.
After the success of the initial period and results obtained, a decision was taken to enlarge the CEFG Group by three members – Amsterdam (NL), Bordeaux (FR) and Vilnius (LT). During the four meetings of this period the member cities discussed critical topics such as financing models and investment in infrastructure, modern financial planning and oversight, new budgeting practices and phenomena (e.g. open, ABC) as well as fiscal competences.
One of the outputs of the CEFG Group from the years 2016 and 2017 was the production of the City Portraits which provide detailed background information about the environment in which the cities' finances and financial management are embedded.
In addition, the CEFG group has established itself as a reference group in European sound financial management and as such participates as an “observer/stakeholder” at the EC Eurostat EPSAS Working Group.
Showcasing strong local experiences both to other cities as well as to European policy-makers and mutual learning remain crucial. A decision has been made as a consequence not only to continue this journey, but also to expand the CEFG group. The road towards 2020 has been set via a selection of emerging and still topical themes for future discussions, such as The role of CEOs/CFOs in today’s changing and complex environment, The working out of a set of “good financial management” guidelines, Infrastructure investment projects and last but not least Financial and operational risk management in cities (prevention and resilience).
For more details about the CEFG Group and its active participation (membership), please contact Mr. Alexander Heichlinger, Co-Founder and Chair, under firstname.lastname@example.org.