This work considers the role of local government in 13 EU Member States (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The book aims to provide an account of the system of local government in each of the countries studied along with a critical and contextual approach to the level of autonomy that local government enjoys. The approach is comparative, based on a questionnaire which all of the authors considered. There is then a detailed conclusion to the book which offers a detailed summary and comparative analysis of the responses in order to better consider the role of local authorities as the 'fourth level' of governance in the EU. The book aims to offer a detailed introduction to and account of each system of local government which may appeal to those seeking an overview of the area, but also a critical and contextual approach that will be of interest to those actively researching in the areas of local and regional government or EU-central-local government relations. The book contains details of reform in local government up to November 2012, including an analysis of the impact of austerity measures on local autonomy where these have become significant.