One of the instruments of cooperation between the EU, third countries and international organizations is the conclusion of the association agreements.
The EU-Ukraine Association Agreement provides a wide range of opportunities for modernization of regional policy and cross-border cooperation.
Main content and commitments of Ukraine
The Association Agreement provides the subject of cooperation in regional policy. This provision prescribed by the Article 446 Chapter 27 “Cross-Border and regional cooperation” Title V “Economic and sector cooperation” of the AA: “The Parties shall promote mutual understanding and bilateral cooperation in the field of regional policy on methods of formulation and implementation of regional policies, including multi-level governance and partnership, with special emphasis on the development of disadvantaged areas and territorial cooperation, hereby establishing channels of communication and enhancing exchange of information between national, regional and local authorities, socio-economic actions and civil society”. The article requires that the parties exert every effort for the mutual understanding of methods of regional policy formulation and realization, taking into consideration such methods, as multilevel governance and partnership.
According to the Article 447 of the AA: “The Parties shall support and strengthen the involvement of local and regional-level authorities in cross-border and regional cooperation and the related management structures to enhance cooperation through the establishment of an enabling legislative framework, to sustain and develop capacity-building measures and to promote the strengthening of cross-border and regional economic and business networks”. Thus the Article provides that Parties shall concentrate on establishing favorable regulatory conditions and proper capacity for the involvement of local and regional authorities in cross-border and regional cooperation between the EU and Ukraine.
The Article 448 requires that the Parties shall strive to develop cross-border and regional elements of, inter alia, transport, energy, communication networks, culture, education, tourism, health and other areas covered by this Agreement which have a bearing on cross-border and regional cooperation. In particular, the Parties shall encourage the development of cross-border cooperation in regard to modernization, equipping and coordination of all bodies of emergency services on the regional level.
Cluster 5 of Subcommittee on Economic and other Sector Cooperation
Responsible bodies in Ukraine
The Ministry of Justice of Ukraine
The development of bilateral cooperation between the EU and Ukraine in cross-border and regional cooperation shall encourage economic activities in particular regions and favorable business climate as a tool of support for these regions.
The development of the regions will be assisted by increasing employment and prosperity of inhabitants of the regions which will be supported by the state.
Cooperation with the EU on regional policy issues will facilitate increasing opportunities for local and regional authorities to establish new stimulating developing programs for the regions, which need state support. The implementation of the EU Standards to the national legislation will lead to substantial decentralization and optimization of power distribution, responsibility between different levels of authorities.
The state of adaptation of Ukrainian legislation and cooperation with the EU
The Law of Ukraine “On Fundamentals of State Regional Policy”
The Law dated 5 February 2022 № 156-VIII1 provides:
- drafting and accomplishment of connected tasks and activities of social-economic development for middle-term (3-5 years) and long-term (5 and more years) periods;
- establishing of new principles of State Regional Policy, in particular, coordination principle – interconnection and coordination of long-term strategies, development plans and programs on state, regional and local levels;
- the system of interconnected documents defining state regional policy;
- powers of the central executive body which formulates state regional policy and the authority that provides realization of state regional policy;
- coordination of actions of the executive bodies and local authorities on formulation and realization of state regional policy.
State regional development strategy of Ukraine
The Strategy adopted by the Resolution of The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine № 385 dated 6 August 2021 provides:
1) Basic principles of the realization of the state regional policy (cooperation, equal rights, subsidiarity, etc.)
2) Aims of the state regional policy till 2020:
- increasing level of competitiveness of the regions;
- territorial socio-economic integration and spatial development;
- effective state governance in regional development.
3) Prioritized spheres of regional development.
Sector Policy Support Programme – Support to Ukraine's Regional Policy
The EU’s main instrument of support for the realization of the State regional development strategy is the Agreement on financing of Sector Policy Support Programme – Support to Ukraine's Regional Policy, concluded and ratified in 2014, which provides the opportunity to attract 55 million Euros from the EU funds for the realization of tasks of the state regional policy.
The aid has the following purposes:
- improving legislation on regional policy;
- providing sustainable and foreseeable financing of regional development;
- strengthening the financial autonomy of local authorities;
- establishing an effective system of the monitoring and assessment of the effectiveness of realization of regional policy;
- strengthening the competitiveness of the regions of Ukraine;
- improving the economic, social and territorial cohesion of the regions.
The term for the realization of the Agreement is 2020. The assets for sectoral budget support will reach the state budget by tranches. The assets will be allotted on a competitive basis by The State regional development fund. The procedure of preparation, assessment and selection of investment programs and projects, disposal of The State regional development fund’s assets prescribed by the resolution of The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine № 195 and № 196, dated 18 March 2015.
Legislative provision of cross-border cooperation and ways to improve it.
One of the most effective instruments on the way to European integration on the regional level is cross-border cooperation which is being realized by the establishment and active involvement of local communities in euroregional associations. According to the Law of Ukraine “On cross-border cooperation”, Euroregion is an organizational form of cooperation of administrative units of the European countries, which provides according to bilateral or multilateral agreements on cross-border cooperation. Cooperation in the frames of Euroregions realizes in order to consolidate the efforts in the economic sphere, build up social, informational, industrial infrastructure, construction and modernization of the border infrastructure, transport system development, scientific and cultural cooperation, and environmental protection.
Euroregions’ activities aimed mainly at the attraction of investments, mutually advantageous trade and economic cooperation between Ukrainian and neighboring countries’ regions which are the members of Euroregions.