As part of its strategy towards the Eastern Partnership countries, ALDA decided to establish a Local Democracy Agency (LDA) in Ukraine, aiming at furthering local self-governance and citizen participation collaboration with local authorities in the region.
Following the 24th Session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, a partner meeting for the forthcoming opening of the LDA Dnipropetrovsk in the south western part of Ukraine was held on March 21.
More than twenty participants gathered, among which large number of Ukrainian local authorities representatives, and the region of Lower Silesia (Poland) certified as a lead partner. Enrico Vannucci, Head of the External Relations and Thematic Priorities Division at the Congress, opened the meeting reiterating the full support of the Congress to this initiative and to the LDAs network. A roundtable provided the opportunity to exchange views, best practices and knowledge, and above all to reflect on more future steps for the establishment of the LDA Dnipropetrovsk.
Speakers included Bartlomiej Ostrowski, Director of the International cooperation and projects Unit for the Lower Silesia Brussels-based office, who shared Lower Silesia’s past and current activities in Ukraine. Also, Dobrica Milovanovic, Deputy Mayor of the city of Kragujevac (Serbia) and Governing Board member of ALDA who could provide an insight on the experience of setting up local democracy agencies and their functioning. Eugen Udod, President of the Dnipropetrovsk Regional Parliament, told via a video intervention about Dnipropetrovsk’s strong commitment to the LDA and the work already conducted by Dnipropetrovsk to improve citizen participation and local democracy. Sergiy Malikov, President of the State Foundation for Local Self Government in Ukraine, stressed the importance of Ukraine’s integration to Europe, and the challenges and opportunities which are triggered by this process in general and for the LDA.
LDA Dnipropetrovsk is expected to open this autumn. The opening of an LDA in Ukraine by the end of this year would be particularly meaningful as the potential signing of the Association Agreement between EU-Ukraine is expected to take place in November.
Despite the strong commitment of the current confirmed partners, there is still a need to find more partners and this will be decisive for the speed of the process of opening the LDA. Future initiatives could include the opening of more LDAs in Ukraine especially as it is the most populated of the EaP countries. Additional partners would thus open the doors for future additional cooperation.
In late April Dnipropetrovsk will host a conference on Eastern Partnership organised by the Assembly of European Regions, and this event will also be the opportunity to involve additional partners and discuss operational aspect for the LDA in Dnipropetrovsk.