Administrative and territorial reform in Ukraine

Article

August 8, 2022

Administrative-territorial reform in Ukraine is an administrative reform that consists in granting greater powers to local self-government bodies (decentralization) and changing the administrative-territorial division. It took place from 2015 to 2020. Instead of more than 11,000 local councils, 1,469 capable territorial communities were formed. And instead of 490 districts — 136 new districts. The main powers of district councils were transferred to the lower (community councils) and higher (oblast councils) levels. The administrative-territorial reform is the most important decentralization reform in Ukraine — a complex of changes to the legislation, the main purpose of which is the transfer of significant powers and funds from central authorities to local self-government bodies. The administrative-territorial reform in Ukraine is one of the most successful in Central and Eastern Europe in terms of achieving a significant share of associations based on voluntary agreements of local authorities.

Legislative support

In April 2014, the government adopted the "Concept of Reforming Local Self-Government and Territorial Organization of Power" in Ukraine. It was this document that started the reform. However, it did not go in full, because the need to amend the Constitution became an obstacle (see below). The project of relevant amendments to the Basic Law, which, by the way, was approved by the Venice Commission, did not receive the necessary 300 votes in the Verkhovna Rada. One of the versions of the administrative-territorial reform is outlined in the corresponding project of amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine, which was previously approved by the Verkhovna Rada on August 31, 2015. On February 5, 2015, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the Law of Ukraine "On Voluntary Unification of Territorial Communities". According to this law, neighboring city, village, village councils can unite into one community, which will have one common body of local self-government. Voluntary unification of territorial communities of villages, towns, and cities is carried out subject to the following conditions: a united territorial community cannot include another territorial community that has its own representative body of local self-government; the territory of the united territorial community must be undivided