From Encyklopedia Administracji Publicznej
DEVOLUTION – a specific transfer of power by the central authority to its regional subordinate institutions. The bodies created as a result of devolution form an intermediate level between the central and local authorities. D., however, differs from federalism in that, although territorial jurisdiction may be similar, the bodies created as a result of devolution are not sovereign – their duties and powers derive from the central authority and are determined by it. In the federal state there is a clear division of competences between the federation and its constituent parts, linked with transferring to the lower level the sovereign authority in clearly defined areas. In case of d. there is no transfer or division of sovereign authority. Administrative d., which is the most limited form, only implies that regional institutions implement policy programmes prepared and approved elsewhere. Legislative d. – sometimes referred to as autonomy – involves the creation of elected regional assemblies with policy-making powers and elements of fiscal independence. Małgorzata Kaczorowska emphasizes that the concept of devolution defines a particular process of decentralization in the United Kingdom, consisting in delegation to a subordinate elected body, carried out according to geographical criteria, of functions previously performed by ministers and the United Kingdom Parliament. As a result of the devolution reform, regional representative assemblies, elected in general elections, were created in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. D. is a process, not a state. It is a process of decentralization and deconcentration of power. It is a dynamic process, not an unchangeable and inflexible state. The essence of d. consists in the fact that in this process the power is delegated, rather than given, since the sovereign United Kingdom Parliament does not renounce its authority at all. David Simpson defines d. as a delegation of central government’s power without relinquishing its sovereignty. This allows to retain the right to withdraw the powers delegated by devolution to a regional parliament or assembly at any time. So far, in Polish language, the term d. was usually used to specify the transfer – at the request of a party – of the competences to settle a case from one administrative body to another, usually superior. [ J.G .Otto ].
Literature: A. Heywood, Politologia [Political science], Warszawa 2006 ■ J. Szymanek, M. Kaczorowska, A. Rothert, Ewolucja, dewolucja, emergencja w systemach politycznych [Evolution, devolution, emergence in political systems], Warszawa 2007 ■ V. Bogdanor, Devolution in the United Kingdom, Oxford 1999.