Oleksandr Kornienko, the First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, took part in the conference “Local Self-Government – the Basis for European Integration and Restoration of Ukraine”.
The event was also attended by Ukrainian MPs, representatives of diplomatic circles, local self-government, NGOs and experts.
In his opening remarks, Oleksandr Korniienko stressed that the decentralisation reform has several important components, including the legislative framework for local self-government and changes in the legislative field.
“All the changes to date have been aimed at gradually reducing centralisation and strengthening decentralisation: new zoning and consolidation, the introduction of direct inter-budgetary relations with the state, etc. The level of community involvement in Ukraine’s defence in the terrible February of '22 and beyond was largely the result of the fact that communities already had resources and had been working with new budgets for over a year,” the First Vice Speaker said.
According to him, it was the trust of the central government in the local authorities that made the independence and capacity of local self-government possible.
“We have transferred budgets to the local level and, at the same time, responsibility. Today, this is especially demonstrated by those hromadas (communities) that work together with the defence forces on the demarcation line, in the regions of active hostilities. Despite all the difficulties, they fully fulfil the obligations imposed on them by the laws of Ukraine and people,” said Oleksandr Korniienko.
In addition, the First Vice-Speaker emphasised the European integration component of the decentralisation reform, where cooperation between the European Commission and Ukraine is important. However, local authorities should also work to improve their management skills and capacity.
“To this end, the Parliament, in dialogue with local government associations, has adopted a revolutionary law on service in these bodies. After all, the level of capacity of local self-government bodies should be high in any hromada ( community) and city of Ukraine. Our strategy, as a state, is to work to create incentives and constantly improve the capacity of local authorities,” said the First Vice Speaker.
Speaking during the panel discussion, the First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine focused on the issue of updating the social contract between local self-government and the state: “This ‘contract’ should be based on the European Charter of Local Self-Government,” he said, “This is a fundamental document for us, which clearly states that self-government is the right and ability of communities to carry out their activities.”
At the same time, Oleksandr Korniienko stressed that part of the agreement is already clear: security is primarily guaranteed by the state. For its part, local self-government should understand that it also has its own responsibility: for the realisation of its capabilities, opportunities and rights. And this, according to the First Vice-Speaker, should be manifested, in particular, in “the involvement of local self-government at the level of decision-making, not just their adoption”.
“It is necessary to finally enshrine in the Constitution the status and guarantees for self-government and, in accordance with the Charter, the issue of proper and ‘careful’ supervision of local authorities,” said Oleksandr Korniienko.
Summing up, the First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine noted that the key areas of the Parliament’s work in this area have been identified and work on them continues.
“These are amendments to the Constitution, updating the necessary laws and providing resources to local authorities. And this is, of course, the issue of rebuilding on the basis of mutual responsibility of the state and local self-government,” Oleksandr Korniienko stressed.