In a debate today with the Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister, Volodymyr Groysman, and the Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle, members of the Committee of the Regions (CoR) committed to further cooperate with the Ukrainian authorities for achieving the goals of local self-government, territorial cooperation and European integration. Strengthening and empowering the Ukrainian local and regional authorities is essential to stabilise the country and step up democratic reforms, according to the CoR. Opening the debate on the situation in Ukraine at today's CoR plenary session, President Ramón Luis Valcárcel assured the Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister of the CoR active support - also through its platform for cooperation with the EU's Eastern partners (CORLEAP) - in his drive for reforms aimed at enhancing local autonomy: "National, regional and local authorities of Ukraine can find in the CoR and CORLEAP strong allies and trustful partners that are ready to share best practices and know-how in the field of decentralisation, local democracy and territorial cohesion". The CoR President also welcomed the invitation by the Ukrainian government to work together in the coming weeks and months on administrative reform for decentralisation. While referring to the recent signing of the political part of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement as "marking a historical event", Volodymyr Groysman emphasised that "I do not remember any point in the past where Ukraine was so determined for reforms". He stressed the government's resolve to achieve effective decentralisation and regional policy through a five-step reform programme, including resources allocation to the various levels of government and accountability of local government. Mr Groysman further stressed the EU perspective of his country: "What I want to be in the future is a citizen of a free and European Ukraine. Making Ukraine an effective democracy and a successful state is the best answer we can give to the occupation Ukraine is undergoing". Štefan Füle, European Commissioner in charge of Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy welcomed the active role of the CoR in the EU's Neighbourhood Policy. He stressed that, "The impact of decentralisation on the unity of Ukraine can only be positive. Decentralisation is not federalisation. There are many differences, the biggest one being that whereas decentralisation is called for from inside Ukraine, federalisation is promoted by outsiders." Responding to the Ukrainian Minister, Arnoldas Abramavičius (LT/EPP), Mayor of Zarasai District Municipality and rapporteur of the CoR opinion on the EU enlargement strategy, welcomed the reforms towards decentralisation, adding that, "However you need to be careful not to repeat the wrongs of the past shadowed by the vertical power approach. Already in 2004 Ukraine had a great opportunity for reform and missed the chance. Do not allow to make this mistake again." The CoR members set forth their position and commitments towards Ukraine in a resolution on "The development of the situation in Ukraine", in which the CoR reiterates "its full commitment to be involved in the overall EU assistance to regional and local authorities to find appropriate solutions to the crisis and to share best practices and know-how with the Ukrainian partners in the field of decentralisation." This includes sharing experience on administrative reforms to achieve decentralisation, on territorial cooperation instruments (e.g. European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation, cross-border cooperation, twining), and on the use of platforms for exchanging good practice between cities - such as the Covenant of Mayors for energy efficiency. More information:· 106th Plenary Session Agenda· Plenary photos - Flickr gallery
The Conference of the Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP)CORLEAP was established by CoR in 2011 to bring a regional and local dimension into the EU's Eastern Partnership and to promote decentralisation, local autonomy and territorial cooperation. It gathers 36 regional and local politicians from the EU and the Eastern Partnership countries, including three Ukrainian members. CORLEAP is co-chaired by Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso, President of the EU Committee of the Regions, and Mamuka Abouladze, Member of the Rustavi City Assembly (Georgia) and President of the Georgian Association of Local Authorities. The Committee of the Regions The Committee of the Regions is the EU's assembly of regional and local representatives from all 28 Member States. Its mission is to involve regional and local authorities and the communities they represent in the EU's decision-making process and to inform them about EU policies. The European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council are obliged to consult the Committee in policy areas affecting regions and cities. It can appeal to the EU Court of Justice if its rights are infringed or it believes that an EU law infringes the subsidiarity principle or fails to respect regional or local powers.
Contact: Nathalie VandelleTél. +32 2 282 24 99