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French local elected representatives reaching out to Ukrainian peers

14 May 2019

The French Association of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (AFCCRE) organised a visit of a delegation of 10 elected representatives in Ukraine on the day following the Presidential elections. During the two days, French, Georgian, German, Moldovan, Polish and Ukrainian local elected representatives exchanged on cooperation opportunities in particular on energy efficiency and tourism.

Jocelyne Bougeard, Deputy Mayor of Rennes and PLATFORMA spokesperson, “encourages the new Presidential team to include local and regional governments in its project and to strengthen the ongoing decentralisation reform”.

At the occasion of an exchange in the French embassy, the Ambassador of France, HE. Isabelle Dumont, welcomed the initiative of the AFCCRE and called for further Decentralised cooperation project with Ukraine. She presented the successful cooperation between Mariupol and several French cities: Caen, La Rochelle, Vitry-sur-Seine and Chartres which led to a major water management contract of €64 million. Several other French-Ukrainian partnerships have been presented, including the city of Brovaric and Fontenay-sous-Bois or Odessa and Marseille. Furthermore, the municipalities of Berdychiv, Chouguyiev, Slavuta, Rivne and Ruzhyn have raised their interest for partnership with French municipalities.

Thibaut Guignard, Vice-President of Côte-d’Armor Province , stated: “We hope for the new Ukrainian President to continue the Decentralisation reform, and we invite him to support decentralised cooperation to strengthen relations between Ukraine and the EU” and emphasised: “The EU should take in consideration the needs of Ukrainian local and regional governments and strengthen decentralised cooperation capacity which can provide, not only financial support but also specific project expertise to cities and regions in Ukraine”.

Christophe Chaillou, Executive Director of the AFCCRE, informed participants about the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs support opportunities to develop partnerships in Ukraine. However he stressed the importance for local and regional governments to respect international law, in particular regarding travel to Crimea and Donbass.

The meeting aimed at answering EaP partners priorities and contributing to the European Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) 20 Deliverables for 2020 of the Eastern partnership, policy framework initiated in 2009 by Poland and Sweden. Furthermore, this year, the European Commission is assessing the EU support to local authorities in the neighbourhoods therefore speakers and participants were invited to identify recommendations to the EU for the post-2020 policy framework.

Olga Khonitch, Deputy-Mayor of Tcherniv, hopes “for EU support to continue in the sector of gender equality and energy efficiency and for the decentralisation process to continue”.

Ronan Dantec, Senator of Loire-Atlantique and Councillor of Nantes, outlined: “The climate challenge is a priority for the EU, therefore it should invest in countries such as Ukraine, where the climate requires huge energy consumption. The common heating network, legacy of Soviet Union, shouldn’t be replaced but modernised to reduce cost and CO2 emissions”.

Several recommendations were identified during the four sessions on Climate and energy efficiency, Decentralisation and governance, Gender Equality and local economic development.

 

  1. Facilitate access of Ukrainian cities and regions to European programmes, in particular programme aiming at tackling climate change;
  2. Guaranteeing the acquis of the decentralisation reforms;
  3. Include citizens and rural areas in cooperation programmes;
  4. Mainstream gender equality in all cooperation programmes, in particular in economic development projects;
  5. Adapt cooperation programme to Ukrainian local and regional governments demands and not to EU offer.

 

Iryna Yarmolenko, Councillor of Zhytomir, calls “for further EU support to local authorities and hopes for President Zelensky to consider gender oriented budget and gender issues as a priority”.

The AFCCRE invited their Ukrainian peers to follow up the discussions on Energy efficiency, decentralisation reform, local economic development and gender equality in Orléans in January 2020 concluding a successful first SGA II PLATFORMA Eastern Partnership activity.