Decentralisation: A Controversial Reform to Establish Peace?

Decentralization is quite a disputable reform but it can stimulate peace and stabilize Ukraine. This prospect was discussed at the conference Can Decentralisation lead to Peace in Ukraine?” which was organized by Friedrich Naumann Stiftung in Brussels on the 1st December 2015.

Sean O’Curneen, Secretary General of ALDE, Committee of Regions, stressed: “Decentralization can bring peace in terms of institutional stability because it is about bringing decision-making as close to people as possible”.  There are a lot of factors which are at stake, for example, clarity in power distribution, balance of competences for regions versus municipalities, financial resources, and well-trained public servants. “The question for Ukraine is to find a right balance between those factors”, said the EU official.

 Diana Sergiienko, City Council Member in Tatarbunary, Odesa region, agreed that it is a challenge for Ukraine to recruit professional people for public administration. Besides that, for comprehensive implementation of decentralization and other reforms, Ukraine lacks communication between all levels of governance and civil society as well as assistance from the central government to use decentralisation tools and methodologies. “Although decentralization is a disputable issue, it is has its positive because it makes the local communities responsible for their own development”, mentioned Ms. Sergiienko.

 Yuriy Bova, Chairman of Trostianets Municipality and Mayor of Trostianets, further emphasized the need for decentralisation in Ukraine. “Decentralization is a key to profound change of the vertical of power”, noted Mr. Bova. It is essentially important in Ukraine because 80% of Ukrainians live in towns and villages. However, around 90% of budget of these territories is spent only on the local governance institutions instead of infrastructure. Poland might be an example for Ukraine to follow and one way to learn about the reforms – study visits for local governors and representatives of civil society. “Moreover, Ukrainian government should establish well-managed channels of communication with civil society and inform public about the ongoing reforms”, concluded he.