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Under the veneer of decentralisation. Ukraine's modernisation efforts stall due to lack of local government reform. OSW Commentary No. 102, 2013-02-12

Iwanski, Tadeusz and Zochowski, Piotr (2013) Under the veneer of decentralisation. Ukraine's modernisation efforts stall due to lack of local government reform. OSW Commentary No. 102, 2013-02-12. [Policy Paper]

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    President Viktor Yanukovych and his Party of Regions have been repeating the pledge to decentralise power in Ukraine and to give local government a greater decision-making role ever since the party appeared on the Ukrainian political scene. The implementation of this reform is crucial both for the economic recovery of Ukraine’s regions and the overall modernisation efforts of the Ukrainian state. At present relations between central government and the regions are regulated by Soviet-era legislation that fails to address the modern-day challenges facing Ukraine. The political elite in the country, including the opposition, appear to have reached consensus on the importance of the decentralisation reform. The first attempts to implement changes in this area were made in the late 1990s, followed by a comprehensive reform programme developed between 2007 and 2009 by Yulia Tymoshenko’s government. In 2012, the Constitutional Assembly under the President of Ukraine appointed a team of experts who drafted a document detailing the reform of local government and the territorial organisation of power1. The document envisages the implementation of what effectively are two major reforms: (1) an administrative-territorial reform, which would help consolidate the fragmented administrative structure, creating larger and more economically self-sufficient administrative units, and (2) local government reform, focusing on creating clearly defined powers for local authorities with a view to securing government funding for specific tasks delegated from central government. Nonetheless, despite these measures, and in spite of the rhetoric coming from President Yanukovych and other members of the Party of Regions, it seems unlikely that the reform will be implemented in the foreseeable future. A series of concrete political decisions taken by the president over the past three years indicate that Yanukovych has not abandoned his plan to build a highly centralised political system. This in turn limits the capacity to govern of local authorities and further restricts the sources of funding for Ukraine’s regions. This apparent resistance to change stems from the fact that by implementing the proposed reforms, the president and his political allies would be forced to relinquish much of their control over the political processes taking place in the country and would have to free up the distribution of budgetary resources between Kyiv and the regions. The implementation of the reform within the specified timeframe (i.e. by 2015) is also unlikely due to the upcoming presidential election and the deteriorating economic situation in Ukraine. Without a comprehensive reform of local government, however, Ukraine will be unable to undertake effective modernisation measures, which are key for the socio-economic development of the country’s regions.

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    Item Type: Policy Paper
    Subjects for non-EU documents: Countries > Ukraine
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Series: Series > Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW) > OSW Commentary
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2014 16:54
    Number of Pages: 7
    Last Modified: 09 Dec 2014 16:54

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