International prize for VUB research into financial constructions of intercommunal associations 

International prize for VUB research into financial constructions of intercommunal associations 

Laura Deruytter of the Cosmopolis Centre for Urban Research in the Department of Geography at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel has won the Global Network on Financial Geography’s FinGeo Doctoral Dissertation Prize. Her research into the origin and evolution of the funding of intercommunal associations over the past 100 years has generated international interest. 

“My research was picked up because it focuses on the role of local government in the funding process,” says Deruytter. “In the UK and the US, people often forget this role of the government. In recent decades, the impact of financial parties such as banks and pension funds on our daily lives, including through investment in infrastructure and housing, has become greater. Just like in other countries, budgetary pressures and market-oriented reforms are changing financial relations between Flemish municipalities and their infrastructure companies.” 

Cover page of the dissertation © Laura Deruytter
Cover page of the dissertation © Laura Deruytter
Laura Deruytter in the Flemish Parliament on 25 April 2023
Laura Deruytter in the Flemish Parliament on 25 April 2023


However, this financialization has not simply taken over the management and ownership of intercommunal associations in Flanders. “Flemish municipalities actually broadened the mission of intermunicipal associations to pursue the development of essential services, local economic growth and the protection of shareholder value,” says Deruytter. “My research shows that local authorities play an active role in the ‘tinkering’ of policy solutions in a changing political-economic context. We therefore need to pay more attention to the financial dependencies and contradictions between municipalities, higher authorities and government entities, as well as the provision of structural funds for energy and water infrastructure.” 

With Marie DeCock (Faculty of Law, UHasselt) and Elizaveta Gjurova (Department of Political Science, UGent), Laura Deruytter organised a study day about intercommunal associations on 25 November last year. Together, they also presented their findings on oversight of intercommunal associations and the role of municipal councils to the Flemish Parliament on 25 April.  


Laura Deruytter, 

Koen Stein
Koen Stein Perscontact wetenschap & innovatie




About Press - Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Vrije Universiteit Brussel is an internationally oriented university in Brussels, the heart of Europe. By providing excellent research and education on a human scale, VUB wants to make an active and committed contribution to a better society.

The World Needs You

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel assumes its scientific and social responsibility with love and decisiveness. That’s why VUB launched the platform De Wereld Heeft Je Nodig – The World Needs You, which brings together ideas, actions and projects based on six Ps. The first P stands for People, because that’s what it’s all about: giving people equal opportunities, prosperity, welfare, respect. Peace is about fighting injustice, big and small, in the world. Prosperity combats poverty and inequality. Planet stands for actions on biodiversity, climate, air quality, animal rights... With Partnership, VUB is looking for joint actions to make the world a better place. The sixth and last P is for Poincaré, the French philosopher Henri Poincaré, from whom VUB derives its motto that thinking should submit to nothing except the facts themselves. VUB is an ‘urban engaged university’, strongly anchored in Brussels and Europe and working according to the principles of free research.


Press - Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Pleinlaan 2
1050 Brussel