Intergovernmental relations have become the workhorse of federal systems across the world. As the formal institutions through which the governments of a federation interact, intergovernmental councils shape the making of public policy in many decentralized and decentralizing countries. Many intergovernmental councils have been created with the purpose of fostering the efficiency of public service delivery. But intergovernmental councils also fulfill another purpose: if well designed, they ensure that governments make policy decisions as equal and reliable partners so that intergovernmental relations respect the federal balance of power, and the “federal spirit.” Against this backdrop, this article sets out principles of council design that make these intergovernmental meetings effective safeguards of federalism.
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