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    Ukraine needs a regional reform

    Franz Schausberger at the Europe-Ukraine Forum in Rzeszów, PL:
     
    After the decentralization reform has been implemented at local level in the Ukraine it is necessary to set up a regionalization reform for the highly centralized country as well as an Autonomy reform for the Eastern regions of Lugansk and Donetsk, as defined in the Minsk Agreement, said Chairman of the Institute of European Regions (IRE) Franz Schausberger at a conference in the Polish border town of Rzeszów on 28 January 2017. In the course of the local reform 1,744 municipalities were voluntarily merged into 366 new communal units. Additionally, the municipalities have been empowered by the financial decentralization programme to receive about 60 percent of the income tax collected in their area. For the first time in the history of the Ukraine, municipalities have financial means to strengthen their own economic development. These quick successful results were not even suspected by experts.
     
     
    from left: Marcin Swiecicki, a member of the Polish Parliament, former mayor of Warsaw, former minister of International Economic Cooperation, Franz Schausberger and Stepan Barna, head of the regional administration Ternopil (UA).
     

    The decentralization process must continue at local level by strengthening the self-management of the regions, said Schausberger. All regional presidents should in future be elected by the regional assemblies and not appointed by the President of the Ukraine. Numerous successful models can be found in the EU Member States, such as the Polish regionalization model.
    As Schausberger emphasized, the EU fully supports the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the Ukraine. However, the EU also supports the implementation of the Minsk Agreement, which provides for the introduction of a special Autonomy Status for the Eastern-Ukrainian regions of Lugansk and Donetsk. This is the only way to ensure that Ukraine maintains its territorial integrity.
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