Ukraine Integrates to the Assembly of European Regions
Kyiv, May 11, 2012. On May 10th the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk was accepted to the Assembly of European Regions (AER). Luhansk oblast joined six other Ukrainian regions as well as 270 European ones that constitute the Assembly. The Ukrainian region was granted the status of an observer.
While Luhansk got an observer status that gives the region no voting rights, the other six Ukrainian regions are full-fledged members of the Assembly. They include Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Kherson, Kirovohrad, Kyiv, Lviv, Odesa, and Vinnytsia.
The decision to include Luhansk in AER was made prior to AER Black Sea Summit, taking place in Odesa on May 11th. The meeting commemorates the 20th anniversary of Odesa joining AER. The region was the pioneer member from Ukraine.
“AER wants to put its political strength and experience at the service of the Ukrainian regions to support them during their economic and social development process, and contribute to a better democratic integration into the European area,” reads the official statement concerning the summit.
Previously, AER helped develop administrative reform in several regions of Ukraine. Organization provided training and expert advice for Ukraine’s civil servants regarding projects in regionalization. “Giving more powers to the regions may significantly help consolidate Ukraine. Moreover, I think decentralization will speed up Ukraine’s integration to the EU,” said the Secretary General of AER Klaus Klipp.
AER membership is beneficial for the regions as it both promotes decisions at the level of local governance and helps strengthen civic society. Moreover, AER lobbies regional issues at the level of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe and the EU’s Committee of Regions. Importantly, AER is the key partner of the EU institutions in policy discussion for the period of 2014-2020.
Founded in 1985, AER featured 35 countries and 16 interregional organizations. AER is the largest independent network of regions in wider Europe that poses itself as the political voice of its members and a forum for interregional co-operation. Questions within the range of AER concern include energy, innovation, climate change, agriculture, social issues, integration, culture, regional democracy, and partnership.