The working meeting of Vyacheslav Nehoda, First Deputy Minister of Regional Development, Housing and Communal Services of Ukraine, and Marc Lemaitre, Director-General, Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG Regio), was held in Brussels on 9 March.
The Directorate General is a key partner of Ukraine in supporting decentralisation and implementation of the European standards for regional development. The parties agreed on the importance of promoting decentralisation and enhancing its support by the European Commission.
The parties summed up the results of the reform over the past three years, as well as discussed challenges and priorities for the future.
In particular, the talk concerned the work of the State Fund for Regional Development (SFRD), tools for capacity building at the local level, Ukraine's participation in the Danube Transnational Programme, use of Smart Specialisation for the oblasts of Ukraine, and intensification of cooperation between local self-government bodies of Ukraine and the EU.
Discussing issues regarding the State Fund for Regional Development the parties confirmed the importance of an open competition for hromadas’ projects that complies with the EU standards.
Marc Lemaitre noted the importance of absence of preferences within the competition and expressed support for the transparency of project selection at the regional level.
Speaking about the projects submitted to the SFRR, Vyacheslav Nehoda emphasised the need to improve the quality of projects both technically and meaningfully. Hromadas should understand that these projects are not only to solve local problems, but also to promote innovation and economic development of the territories.
“Within the framework of the working group of MinRegion and the Committee of the Regions this year we launched a Peer-to-Peer pilot project for hromadas and oblasts of Ukraine and EU countries. For us, this is an important component of exchange of experience and best practices, which will result in new joint projects of territories’ development,” said the First Deputy Minister.
In turn, Marc Lemaitre emphasised the readiness of comprehensive support from the Directorate-General on strengthening cooperation between the communities of Ukraine and the EU according to the “peer-to-peer” principle.
The European Union has launched a TAIEX programme for Ukraine, envisaging expert missions, study visits to EU countries and practical seminars. The work of this programme can be expanded to support decentralisation and regional development.
As for the participation of Ukraine in the Macro-Regional Strategies of the European Union, the parties noted the intensification of Ukraine's participation in this direction. In addition, in December 2017, Ukraine signed an Agreement to participate in the Danube Transnational Programme, which provides EUR 5 million to four oblasts of Ukraine. Marc Lemaitre drew attention to the urgency of accelerating the process of forming control bodies within the framework of the Danube Transnational Programme for the fastest possible use of funds by Ukraine.
Concerning the use of Smart Specialisation in Ukraine, this tool is considered as a priority for application in the elaboration of regional development strategies and formation of priorities for industrial and innovative development of the regions.
This year, Smart Specialisations will be developed for three pilot oblasts in Ukraine with the help of the European Union and experts from the EU countries. The Ukrainian party noted the importance of adapting the Smart Specialisation methodology for the elaboration of regional development strategies after 2020 and formation of a joint action plan for the elaboration of Smart Specialisations for all oblasts of Ukraine. It is also planned to engage the newly created Regional Development Agencies in this process.
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