New rules for the formation of Ukraine’s administrative and territorial structure: what is expected, why and when

How did it happen that in Ukraine until recently the villages were getting less and the village councils more? Why are there cities of oblast and rayon significance, and what is the difference between them? Why do some villages and urban-type settlements, with their own local governments, subordinate themselves to city councils of cities of oblast significance? Why and how are there hundreds of urban-type settlements that are not envisaged by the General Law? Why are Ukrainian rayons so different in size and population? Why is it difficult and sometimes impossible to obtain official information on the number and composition of city, settlement and village councils, the names of settlements?..

It is difficult to answer all these questions. And the reason for these misunderstandings is the lack of clear legislation that would set the rules for the formation and change of the administrative and territorial structure of the country.

In the course of decentralisation and AH formation, these issues became even more relevant.

In the absence of clear legislation in Ukraine defining the procedure for the formation, registration of territorial units and settlements, it is unclear who and how should do this.

Decision is ready

In order to create clear rules and untwist the knot of problems accumulated in the country due to the absence of legislation on the formation of the administrative and territorial structure, in 2016 MinRegion drafted a bill “On the Principles of the Administrative and Territorial Structure of Ukraine”. This draft law was ready for consideration in the Parliament in February 2018. It was brought to the decision-making room three times, but the MPs could not even begin to consider it.

The draft law does not change the administrative and territorial structure of the country, but sets clear rules for this.

In particular, the bill defines the administrative and territorial structure – it leaves three administrative and territorial levels: basic, subregional (rayon), regional (oblast) ones. It is envisaged that the rayon level should be more streamlined and meet the European standards.

Besides, the draft law defines the administrative and territorial unit and administrative-territorial units of all levels: hromada, rayon, region.

According to the bill, Kyiv and Sevastopol retain their special status.

The draft law also defines a settlement and categories of settlements: village, town, city. And there is no division of cities into cities of oblast andrayon significance, no urban-type settlements…

The draft law also defines the procedure for resolving issues of the administrative-territorial structure: the procedure for the formation, reorganisation and liquidation of hromadas and rayons, changes of their boundaries and transfer of administrative centres; the procedure for assigning settlements to categories of villages, towns, cities; the procedure for changing the boundaries of a village, town, city; order of naming and renaming of administrative-territorial units and settlements.

That is, the bill clearly sets out who has to make what decision and when in order to create, eliminate, change the boundaries or name of a settlement, hromada or rayon, etc.

Registration and accounting

The draft law not only establishes clear rules and procedures for resolving issues of the administrative-territorial structure, but also establishes an electronic state register of administrative-territorial units and settlements.

The draft law stipulates that MinRegion as a single executive body will be responsible for keeping the register.

Support for changes

The draft law was supported by the Council of Europe back in June 2018.

On the whole, the bill was drafted with the involvement of all Ukrainian local self-government associations and a wide range of experts, who insist on the need to resolve the above issues.

When will changes be appropriate?

Some experts propose to adopt the draft law “On the Principles of the Administrative and Territorial Structure” in autumn, but to state in the transitional provisions that certain articles will come into force only after the adoption of the Law “On the Administrative and Territorial Structure”.

The general opinion of experts is that without this draft law there will be no way to overcome the chaos in matters concerning the administrative and territorial structure of the country.

The full version is available in Ukrainian – please click HERE

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