Today, within the framework of the Days of Parliament in Lviv oblast, an online discussion was held on “Involvement of Regional Stakeholders in the Legislative Process." The event was attended by the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Dmytro Razumkov, MPs of Ukraine Halyna Vasylchenko, Roman Lozynskyi, Rostyslav Tistyk, Volodymyr Vyatrovych, Pavlo Bakunets and Natalia Pipa, representatives of local self-government bodies and NGOs of Lviv oblast.
The event provided a wonderful opportunity to discuss the issues of building effective communication between local self-government bodies, the public and MPs of Ukraine in the process of legislative activity. The online discussion also became a platform for sharing experiences in identifying problems and building a consensus on how to address them.
In his opening statement to the online discussion, Verkhovna Rada Chairman Dmytro Razumkov thanked the RADA Program for supporting and conducting the Days of Parliament in the regions of Ukraine and noted, “Today it is important to build effective communications at different levels and especially in the situation related to COVID-19. It is important to establish clear communication at the center-regions level – as regards decision-making, assistance, and resolution of various issues. This will allow us to promptly respond to the changes and challenges facing society, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the local authorities and civil society.”
East Europe Foundation President Viktor Lyakh welcomed the participants and noted that the online discussion in Lviv oblast was an excellent result of the synergy of the efforts of the Foundation and its partners for many years – the NGO “Internews-Ukraine” and the Civil Network OPORA. “We are pleased that we can initiate such a professional discussion between executive bodies, local self-government representatives and NGOs. Today’s event is part of the Days of Parliament which are organized by the RADA Program, with the support of its partners, in different parts of Ukraine. Lviv oblast is already the third region where such large-scale events involving parliamentarians have taken place in recent months. We believe that today’s discussion will help to establish a continuous process of interaction among the key stakeholders and to ensure that the needs of the region will be heard and supported by MPs as they develop draft laws.”
Andriy Kulakov, Program Director of the NGO “Internews-Ukraine,” emphasized that the holding of the Days of Parliament and in particular such online events is one of the tools that will make communication among the key legislative stakeholders easier, more efficient and accessible. “Such panel discussions, a live and frank dialogue, are a crucial tool in establishing the decision-making vertical required by our communities and our Ukrainian society in general.”
During the discussion, the MPs of Ukraine shared their experience of effective communication with stakeholders in the course of their legislative activity.
Roman Lozynskyi, MP of Ukraine, First Deputy Head of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on State Building, Local Governance, Regional and Urban Development, said, “In our legislative work we try to perform so-called crash tests of our legislative initiatives, since we do understand that if some or other norm is adopted it will affect the people. That is why we keep holding local meetings with voters and associations to discuss our initiatives.”
MP Natalia Pipa, Secretary of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Education, Science and Innovations, noted that “education is a very traditionalist and conservative realm that is highly resistant to change. When communicating with stakeholders, we meet those who resist changes as well as those who are ready to change certain things. That is why the working groups of the Committee always lead to very sharp professional discussions. We have long noticed that the more inclusive we make the Committee and the more stakeholders we involve in the initial stage of preparing draft laws, the better are the chances that the bill will be adopted.”
Volodymyr Vyatrovych, MP of Ukraine, Member of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Committee on Humanitarian and Information Policy, presented a review of Draft Law No. 4582 “On Improving the Openness of the Operation of Local Self-Government Bodies and the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine”. According to the parliamentarian, after six months from the law’s coming into force all local councils will be required to conduct live video broadcasts of their sessions and to provide for public access to those broadcasts. “People attending meetings of councils will also be able to freely make photos and video and audio recordings of the meetings. As to the work of the parliament, it is planned that plenary sessions as well as meetings of all Committees will be broadcast. It is also proposed that all transcripts of Committee meetings be made publicly available. In fact, this bill can become the tool that will allow MPs and representatives of local self-government bodies to openly present their work and be closer to their voters.”
MP Pavlo Bakunets, member of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Environmental Policy and Nature Management, said that the level of stakeholder involvement may soon decrease due to the disappearance of the majoritarian system as such. “People in localities, and especially local self-government bodies, most frequently address those MPs who were elected from their region, district, rayon or town. And this connection may be lost, because people will have to address offices of various political parties. As to the work of our Committee, representatives of NGOs, professional associations and local self-government bodies are always present at the Committee meetings.”
Also, the online discussion involved the presentation of the results of a research conducted by the Civil Network OPORA on the inclusiveness of parliamentary Committees and the practice of interaction of permanent parliamentary factions with stakeholders. Kateryna Minkina, analyst of the Project “Inclusive Committees as a Guarantee of Quality Lawmaking,” emphasized that “inclusiveness,” or in other words the involvement of all interested parties, is important for taking into account the views of groups with different representation and, as a consequence, for developing balanced policies in the lawmaking process. Ms. Minkina noted that, based on the results of the study, non-systemic communication with stakeholders still persists, namely, a reactionary response to the proposed legislative changes, rather than a permanent dialogue in the policy-making process. Moreover, the mechanism for stakeholder access to the results of the work and expert opinions is still of a limiting nature.
Her colleague Andriy Tokarskyi presented the portal porada.com which had been created as part of the project “Inclusive Committees as a Guarantee of Quality Lawmaking.” The portal allows Ukrainian MPs to initiate consultations with stakeholders – it is possible to post information on the consultation, download additional information materials related to the topic of the consultation, and specify the way in which the parliamentarian wants to obtain information and proposals from stakeholders. Also, the platform will enable conducting surveys on specific issues to determine the positions of the main beneficiaries and stakeholders.
It will be recalled that the Days of Parliament are held within the framework of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Program “RADA: Responsible Accountable Democratic Assembly” with the support of its partners – the NGO “Internews-Ukraine” and the Civil Network OPORA.