Decentralization: how to change the administrative-territorial structure of Ukraine


The Cabinet adopted a relevant decision.

The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine during an extraordinary meeting on 12 June in the framework of the decentralization reform eliminated the 490 existing areas and formed new 129, and identified administrative centers and approved site 1470 local communities. The budget for the new administrative-territorial device will start to form from next year. Experts spoke about the positives and risks of this “overlapping” of Ukraine, reports the with reference to Comments.

The new administrative-territorial structure: the positive side

Head of political and legal programs of the Ukrainian center of social development Igor Reiterova considers positive the fact of the revision of the “boundary” areas. But how this is done, one calls solid a minus.

“We have long needed to optimize the administrative-territorial structure, which was inherited from the Soviet Union, – the expert emphasizes. Then everything was formed by different principles and mobilization, depending on presence of those or other industrial enterprises. We were depressed areas that needed to be consolidated. But not exactly this way, as did the present government”.

Igor Reiterova notes that if decentralization in past years, took place more or less naturally, with the discussions on the level of communities, it is now all done virtually by force.

“It was necessary initially to adopt a law on local referendum, giving local people the right to speak where they want to see the back-end, whether they want such “block”. And we went to a just administrative measures, – says the expert. – About the promised democracy is abruptly forgotten. Even that which was before… As a consequence, here and there breaking out of protests. The same Irpin residents are outraged that the ACP is not there, but in much smaller Bucha. And such examples in the country very much. And that’s people not fully understand what was happening. And what happens is that Ukraine is “cut” the Cabinet, not listening to the opinions of citizens. Of course, not without hints of the local “solved”. We are afraid that we are waiting in front of not just the protests, but clashes on the ground.”

According to Igor Reiterova, the consolidation area in the form in which it now presented, in the vast majority lobbied local “potentates”.

“In this sense is very revealing of the Odessa and Zakarpatska region, – the expert continues. – Local “potentates” did everything to save economically, politically, administrative control over the territories from which they feed for many years.”

Among the risks Igor Reiterova also calls a huge leap in unemployment, which we receive as a result of this “reform.” He believes that there will be “optimized” doctors, police and especially civil servants of local self-government. This is no alternative to the Cabinet does not offer, experts say.

“Ukreplennye done, including with a view to the future local elections – underlines Igor Ratitovec. – Because the new districts will tie the constituency. And those who are in power, will try to make “connection” to gain advantage in the elections…. In fact it will bring about a huge redistribution of power on the ground.”

The new administrative-territorial structure vs economic development

Expert on regional development Igor Devour stressed that the question of administrative-territorial structure is a question of economic development.

“From the point of view of regional development, decentralization reform is important, – said the expert. – But left open the issue of sources of filling of local budgets and redistributing resources. I think it was around the redistribution of resources between regional elites will go the main struggle in the framework of the new territorial structure of the country. Up and coming local elections can greatly affect the process of implementation of administrative reform”.

The results of the local elections, said Igor Devour, will form the main trends of the reform.

“Communities will fight for their economic rights and financial independence from the centre. Also strengthened interregional cooperation and implementation of infrastructure projects”, – the expert predicts.

New administrative-territorial device vs the law

The political scientist, the General Director of “Leviathan” Nicholas Miller recalls that, in accordance with part 1 of article 85 of the Constitution of Ukraine, the formation and liquidation of districts, establishment and change of boundaries of cities is the competence of the Parliament.

“That is, all actions of the Cabinet of Ministers is not constitutional, – the expert emphasizes. The only purpose of this reform is to optimize public subsidy and shift the burden of financing from the state budget to local… Also the Constitution of Ukraine does not envisage the existence of such a link in the self as the GSS, therefore, no accompanying changes to the Constitution is more like a Scam than a balanced state solution.”

The idea is to assign the government the authority to determine the administrative centers of territorial communities is not consistent with the provisions of the law of Ukraine “On voluntary unification of territorial communities”, which established a different procedure for resolving these issues, says Nicholas Miller.

“In particular, on the basis of article 7 of the Act, the definition of an administrative centre if it happens by the decision of village, settlement, city councils are merged, – said the expert. – Change of political elite, or in strong criticism of this reform, the government could easily put pressure on the constitutional court of Ukraine. And KSU recognizes changes in the law on local self-government from 08.05.2020 year not corresponding to the Constitution. That will give a reason to cancel today’s decision of the Cabinet”.