Hugues Mingarelli: “Decentralisation is perhaps the most important success of Ukraine”

“Decentralisation is one, if not a major, success in your country,” Hugues Mingarelli, EU Ambassador to Ukraine, told the heads of AHs present at the round table meeting at the Kharkiv Local Government Development Centre on 21 February.

“Wherever I travel in Ukraine, I am told that newly amalgamated hromadas are able to provide better services to citizens of the country. For us, it is very important. We have been deeply involved in this process through the U-LEAD with Europe Programme, supporting LGDCs and building ASCs, thus building the capacities of amalgamated hromadas.”

Ambassador Mingarelli also informed the heads of AHs of the Kharkiv Oblast that he has sent a letter to Parliament’s Chairperson Parubiy and Vice Prime Minister Zubko to support the package of draft laws aimed at fostering decentralisation. “You can count on the EU to assist you,” he emphasised, adding that the decentralisation process in the Kharkiv Oblast was slightly problematic.

Despite this, AH representatives said at the round table meeting that due to decentralisation, local residents felt real change for the better. Viktor Solovyov, head of the Chkalovska AH noted: “I regret that we did not establish AH in 2015”. Of course, there are problems – according to him, rayon state administrations do not want to lose power, and therefore there are difficulties with the distribution of powers.

Yuriy Kryvenko, head of the Zachepylivska AH, noted that his hromada has been existing for only one and a half months, but it has also felt some controversy with the local authorities. He expressed his gratitude to the Kharkiv LGDC for a study trip to the Khmelnytskyi Oblast, which contributed to the changes in Zachepylivka. He also regrets that three years have been lost: “For 28 years we have been told about reforms from somewhere above, and nothing was changing on the ground. At the moment, we are experiencing real change.”

Hugues Mingarelli added that all major changes cause resistance, and it is very important that the Verkhovna Rada approves laws that will make the reforms irreversible. The EU Ambassador also promised support for the primary healthcare system, stressing that there are certain funds for this, in particular for the Kharkiv Oblast.

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