21 April 2024
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Communities discuss a law on international cooperation
Communities discuss a law on international cooperation

Chernivtsi, February 27, 2024. Eighty community leaders from Chernivtsi region, Members of Parliament, representatives of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities under the President of Ukraine, heads of the Chernivtsi Regional Military Administration and Regional Council, representatives of All-Ukrainian associations of local government bodies, and the experts discussed the draft law No. 9450 On the International Territorial Cooperation of Ukraine during the round table conducted with the USAID HOVERLA Activity support.


Participants emphasized the importance of international territorial cooperation for capacity building and development of communities within the Ukraine's accession to the EU. Due to the challenges of war and a lack of state funds, the joint projects with the EU counties will help Ukrainian municipalities to attract additional finances for local growth. The draft law No. 9450 will facilitate the access of Ukraine to EU Cohesion Policy/Structure Funds by simplifying the process of building international partnerships between communities.

Olexandr Alyksiychuk, the author of the draft law No. 9450, a Member of Parliament, and the Chairman of the Subcommittee of the Parliament’s Committee on the Organization of State Power, Local Government, Regional Development and Urban Planning, informed the event participants that the draft law has been approved by the Committee and is ready for adoption.

He also shared key innovations introduces by the law, including the concepts of interterritorial, transborder, and transnational cooperation. He emphasized,

"This draft law will truly align national legislation with the provisions of the European Union, create better conditions for cooperation, increase investment attraction, and improve the quality of life for communities. We want this legislation to provide the cooperation opportunities for all communities and regions of Ukraine. The draft law aims to expand opportunities and stimulate local governments to more actively participate in EU programs and funds, particularly in the Interreg program. Even before Ukraine becomes an EU member, we need to be able to use such opportunities."

 

 

Currently, 379 out of 1,469 Ukrainian communities have established 1,573 international partnership agreements. Chernivtsi’s community leaders highlighted key challenges in the development and implementation of cross-border cooperation: personnel shortage and the issue of wages for local government officials; lack of language knowledge and communication challenges;  insufficient support at the state level; lack of practical experience in international cooperation.

Members of Parliament explained the instruments embedded in the draft law to address the mentioned challenges. Other speakers also presented the opportunities for communities to create partnerships with the European municipalities supported by Engagement Global,  SKEW, GIZ, Cities4Cities. Representatives of the USAID HOVERLA Activity emphasized the project’s readiness to support communities in international cooperation and building staff competencies.

Gabriel Abraham, the USAID HOVERLA Activity Chief of Party, stated:

"We are· committed to furthering the implementation of Ukraine’s decentralization reform by strengthening the local governments, and fostering the development of an efficient legal framework that ensures improvement in local governments capabilities and capacity."

Yuriy Yuzva, the Nedoboivtsi Mayor, found the event useful:

"Today, we learned about international cooperation as the basis for the future development of our communities, discussed many painful issues directly with MPa, and heard valuable information that we will use in our work. Our community is already planning the international partnership in water supply and waste management realms."

Maria Nikorich, the Novoselytsia Mayor, added:

"We saw the interest of the central government in territorial communities’ work, especially in international cooperation. Today, we have a clear state position on how to organize, register, and sign agreements or projects."

 

 

The USAID HOVERLA Activity provides expert support to the Verkhovna Rada in the development and adoption of draft law No. 9450 and supports the dialogues between the local and central government on the issue of international cooperation. A similar event is planned for March with communities of the northeastern regions of Ukraine.

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