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Local and regional authorities will be key to Ukraine's reconstruction  

​​ ​Important role of local government in reconstruction in spotlight ahead of international Ukraine Recovery Conference.

The governments of Ukraine, Switzerland and the United Kingdom and representatives of the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for the Reconstruction of Ukraine, the European Commission and the OECD have agreed that continuing Ukraine's pre-war efforts to decentralise government will help to bolster Ukraine's recovery and reconstruction and to drive forward its ambition to join the EU.

The consensus is reflected in a set of recommendations reached at an international workshop hosted on 25 May by the European Committee of the Regions. The recommendations underline, among other points, the importance of ensuring Ukraine's local and regional authorities have sources of revenue of their own and the capacity and training needed to make effective use of national and international funding for reconstruction.

Hours earlier, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had addressed a plenary meeting of the European Committee of the Regions, urging the EU's cities and regions to continue their support for Ukraine over the long term. ​​

The workshop – entitled "Putting the Lugano Principles into Action: Strengthening the Role of Local and Regional Governments in Ukraine's Recovery and Reconstruction Process, and on the Road to EU Membership" – is part of the preparations for the Ukraine Recovery Conference, which will bring governments from dozens of countries, EU institutions and other partners to London on 21-22 June. 

Andrea Studer, Ambassador and Deputy Director of the Swiss Development Cooperation Agency, said: "In Ukraine just like in Switzerland, decentralisation is what brings decision-making closer to the people, thereby creating trust in the institutions, which is the most precious element of our democracies. Switzerland has been accompanying Ukraine in enhancing decentralisation and self-governance for nearly 15 years. It is crucial that the war does not reverse the achievements made. On the contrary, the reconstruction shall strengthen the autonomy of the local governments, uniting all communities in their common goal to rebuilding Ukraine."

Vitaliy Klitschko, Mayor of Kyiv and President of the Association of Ukrainian Cities, said: "One of the key advantages of decentralisation is the increase in the responsibility of local authorities to the community. When people have the opportunity to influence decisions that affect communities and the use of financial resources. Decentralisation in Ukraine helps reduce bureaucracy and corruption. The results of decentralisation should become a guarantee of a proper process of restoration and reconstruction of Ukraine."

Mathias Cormann, Secretary-General of the OECD, said: "Ukraine's regional and local governments have been central to the capacity to keep public services going or to restoring them swiftly when impacted by Russia's war of aggression. Moving forward, they will be a central pillar of a successful reconstruction, recovery and reform effort. The OECD's Rebuilding Ukraine by Reinforcing Municipal and Regional Governance shows how reforms to strengthen regional and local governments, through decentralisation and regional development, have already paid dividends, enabling a very high 60% of Ukrainian municipalities to continue to provide basic services. Today's workshop explores how we can most effectively continue to support this important mission for a recovery underpinned by local self-governance and effective decentralisation."

Anna Jarosz-Friis, Acting Director of Ukraine Service in the European Commission, said: "The role that Ukrainian municipalities played in keeping the resilience of the country under the full-scale work proved the success of decentralisation reform, and gave a new meaning to subsidiarity principle. In the EU enlargement context, decentralisation is a part of what we call 'effective multi-level governance' which the Commission will assess under its annual reports. Finally, local self-government and decentralisation are instrumental for the recovery of Ukraine. As President von der Leyen put it, the regions and the municipalities are also economic powerhouses which are necessary to tap into Ukraine's transition."

The President of the European Commit​tee of the Regions, Vasco Alves Cordeiro (PT/PES), said: "The European Committee of the Regions is fully committed to supporting cooperation, progress in Ukraine and strengthened local self-government. The war against Ukraine is still ongoing but the reconstruction of all destroyed buildings and infrastructure has to start now. Local and regional authorities and mayors of the differently affected cities in Ukraine play an essential role in this endeavour."

Lee Rowley, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Local Government and Building Safety from the UK, said: "I am delighted to be at today's workshop reaffirming the UK's support for Ukraine and working with them to strengthen good, accountable governance particularly at the local and regional level, encouraging essential private-sector investment and delivering public services for the communities and people of Ukraine."

Background: 

The international workshop on 25 May was entitled "Putting the Lugano Principles into Action: Strengthening the Role of Local and Regional Governments in Ukraine's Recovery and Reconstruction Process, and on the Road to EU Membership" and hosted by the European Committee of the Regions, on behalf of the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for the Reconstruction of Ukraine. Reflecting internationally agreed principles and ongoing discussions on how to support Ukraine's recovery, the meeting elaborated on the ways in which local and regional administrations could be involved in the reconstruction process and on the challenges. The panels considered the decentralisation process, peer-to-peer support for local governments in Ukraine, guidelines for investment, and public-private partnerships. The recommendations are available here.

The half-day event was co-organised by the governments of Ukraine, Switzerland and the United Kingdom as well as by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Commission. Switzerland hosted the Ukraine Recovery Conference in 2022; the United Kingdom is the host of this year's Ukraine Recovery Conference.

Last year's Ukraine Recovery Conference – held in Lugano, Switzerland on 4-5 July 2022 – presented the Ukrainian government's roadmap for the country's reconstruction, and discussed methods and plans to raise funds for the reconstruction of Ukraine. The conference brought together national governments, the European Commission, the European Investment Bank, and the OECD. The conference resulted in the Lugano Declaration, which outlined the commitments of the international community to support Ukraine in its recovery efforts and agreed on a set of principles for the recovery process: partnership; reform; transparency, accountability and the rule of law; democratic participation; multi-stakeholder engagement; gender equality and inclusion; and sustainability.

This year's Ukraine Recovery Conference will be held in London on 21-22 June. The focus will be on mobilising international support for Ukraine's economic and social stabilisation and recovery from the effects of war, including through emergency assistance for immediate needs and private-sector participation in the reconstruction process. The European Committee of the Regions has been invited to participate.

On 19-20 April 2023, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hosted an International Summit of Cities and Regions in Kyiv, focused on reconstruction. This resulted in a declaration that delineated objectives and priority areas for regions and cities that would like to contribute to Ukraine's recovery. Vasco Alves Cordeiro, President of the European Committee of the Regions, represented the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for the Reconstruction of Ukraine. 

The European Alliance of Cities and Regions for the Reconstruction of Ukraine was established in June 2022 by associations of Ukrainian and EU regions and cities together with the European Committee of the Regions to coordinate efforts for the recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine and to facilitate contacts and cooperation with the EU institutions. The Alliance is open to individual cities and regions and to public- and private-sector partners wishing to support Ukraine.​

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