Today, Michel Lebrun, president of the EU Committee of the Regions (CoR), met Volodymyr Hroysman, Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister for Regional Development, to discuss setting up a CoR Task Force on the decentralisation reform in Ukraine. Mr Hroysman also invited the CoR to participate in monitoring the forthcoming local elections.
“The ratification of the Association Agreement with Ukraine by the European and the Ukrainian Parliament in September was a significant historical move. Now this will be backed by deeper partnership at the regional and local levels to strengthen local democracy and facilitate regional development. For this, we need reforms aimed at administrative, political and fiscal decentralisation in order to boost regional growth and jobs. This will also help to stabilise the country, respect its territorial integrity, promote capacity building in the public administration and reinforce local democracy. The Ukrainian Government set up an ambitious agenda for reforming local self-governance and the territorial reorganisation of power. The CoR and CORLEAP will strongly support this process”, stated Michel Lebrun, president of the Committee of the Regions and co-chair of CORLEAP, the CoR's joint assembly bringing together EU and Ukrainian local politicians within the Eastern Partnership.
In the bilateral meeting, Michel Lebrun and Volodymyr Hroysman, Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister for Regional Development, agreed on the launch of a CoR task force to support the reform process in Ukraine by tackling topics such as the excessive centralisation of the system, fiscal dependence on the central government and limited financial resources, low administrative capacity, corruption and insufficient citizen involvement. Volodymyr Hroysman pointed out that, "A territorial dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy is needed and we will work jointly with the CoR to collect practices of administrative and fiscal decentralisation used throughout the EU."
Michel Lebrun further underlined: “Decentralisation is not just a legislative or administrative exercise. It can provide a major stimulus for successful national reforms, paving the way for economic, political and social development and stability. We need decentralisation reforms and more territorial and cross-border cooperation. This is the basis for building confidence and consolidating prosperity, which is crucial in these moments of crisis.”
At the end of the meeting, Volodymyr Hroysman invited the CoR to participate in monitoring the next local elections in the context of the electoral observation delegation organised by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.
Ukraine's decentralisation process and the potential for cross-border cooperation was also the topic of a workshop in the framework of the Open Days, the European week of regions and cities, earlier in the day. The workshop organised by CORLEAP and EURONEST – CORLEAP's counterpart in the European Parliament - further explored how these two EU institutions could jointly further contribute to facilitating and promoting cooperation and city-diplomacy across borders in the Eastern Partnership countries.