Draft laws to accelerate decentralisation: sparknote for new parliament
The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of the eighth convocation failed to give a new impetus to decentralisation at its last session, since it did not even consider the draft laws important for the reform continuation. Now, the whole process of adopting these bills, starting from submission to the parliament, has to be relaunched. We have lost time, but we do not lose hope that the new MPs of the new convocation will be more active in dealing with decentralisation. There are reasons for such hopes, as representatives of the party that formed the new parliamentary majority have repeatedly asserted that they plan to complete the reform by the autumn of 2020, that is, before the next local elections.
Readiness No 1
So, what are the most important draft laws for reforming local self-government, ready to get on Parliament’s agenda from the first days of its work?
Most importantly, amendments to the Constitution regarding decentralisation are almost ready for consideration in the Verkhovna Rada. The text of the constitutional amendments is available on the Government Portal. Local government experts and representatives were involved in the preparation and support of these proposals. And the party of the new parliamentary majority has already declared the need for amendments to the Constitution, creation of a prefect institute, etc. Therefore, the provisions of this document may, in theory, be considered by newly elected parliamentarians.
And here are the draft law that the newly elected deputies can adopt as a whole this autumn, without waiting for changes to the Constitution:
- The main and most expected for all implementers of the reform is the draft law “On the Principles of the Administrative and Territorial Structure of Ukraine”. Experts call this bill the “decommunisation of Ukrainian legislation in terms of administrative and territorial structure.” The draft law does not change the administrative and territorial structure of the country, but it establishes a clear and modern procedure for its formation in the future: rules, competences, terms.
- Another important draft law, which has already been discussed in detail by experts and local self-government representatives, is the draft law “On Amendments to the Law “On Regulation of Urban Planning Activity”. It is important, above all, for amalgamated hromadas, for their holistic planning and development.
- The new Parliament can also put an end to the long-standing issue of local self-government service.
- The ninth convocation Parliament may also sufficiently promptly delegate to the Government the power to develop and approve perspective plans for the formation of hromadas’ territories. Oblast councils currently have this authority.
The relevant bill was registered with the Verkhovna Rada at the end of 2018, but has not reached its consideration in the hall. For the new Parliament, the political expediency of this draft law is simply enormous.
Readiness No 2
Of course, even if all of these draft laws are adopted, it will not be enough to implement the Concept of reforming local self-government and administrative-territorial organisation of power, hold elections in the autumn of 2020 on a new territorial basis of hromadas and rayons, and complete the reform.
In case of adoption of the law “On the Principles of the Administrative and Territorial Structure of Ukraine”, it will still be necessary to adopt laws on the administrative and territorial structure of each oblast.
In part, this work is already underway, as discussed in our previous article.
In order to clearly differentiate between the state and local self-government authorities, as well as between the LSG levels, it will be necessary to adopt a new version of the law “On Local Self-Government” and a new law “On Local State Administrations”, as well as other legislation defining the powers of local self-government bodies and local executive authorities.
Local elections legislation will also need to be amended to address the issue of proportional representation of citizens in hromada councils and representation of all hromadas in rayon and oblast councils.
In addition, hromada residents will have to be provided with up-to-date mechanisms and tools for influencing local government and decision-making at the legislative level.
In short, there is not enough time, yet enough issues have remained unresolved over the years of reform. Though reform advocates are used to working in permanent race against time, so anything can be done in time if the political will is finally there.
The article was prepared within the framework of the Project of the Ukrainian Association of Rayon and Oblast Councils “Modeling of the Administrative and Territorial Structure at Sub-Regional Level”, implemented with the support of the Council of Europe Programme “Decentralisation and Local Government Reform in Ukraine”.
The full version is available in Ukrainian – please click HERE
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