Foundation for Local Government Reform
Work on a new project begins
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Democratization of the processes of design and implementation of policies in the cities with district division – Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna is the name of the new project that the Mizia Regional Development and Innovation Association (RDIA Mizia) and the Foundation for Local Government Reform (FLGR) are starting to work on. The project will be implemented in two years with the support of the Active Citizens Bulgaria Fund under the EEA FM 2014-2021.

The sustainable development of the three largest Bulgarian municipalities - Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna is not accompanied by an effective local government structure that allows citizens to participate in the process of policy formulation and implementation. The management of these municipalities does not, in practice, guarantee the necessary conditions for citizens to participate effectively in resolving issues of local importance and obtaining public services tailored to the specificities and requirements of the local context in the big city. The main objective of the project is to create an environment for identifying and providing opportunities for active participation of citizens and their organizations in the process of policy formulation and implementation in Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna.

More than 2 million people live in the three big cities of Bulgaria - Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna, which is almost 30% of the country's population. The three cities continue to attract citizens with job opportunities, higher incomes, good education, advanced services and well-built technical infrastructure But there is no self-government in the districts of Sofia (24), Plovdiv (6) and Varna (5). In Sofia, one councilor represents about 22,000 inhabitants, in Plovdiv and Varna - 7,000, while the average for the other municipalities is 1,200.

Over-urbanization, over-development of residential complexes, deterioration of air quality, reduction of capacity to serve of the social and technical infrastructure are major obstacles to people's normal lives. The project proposes the elaboration of studies on the basis of which proposals would be prepared for changes in the legislation related to the municipalities with district division, with the emphasis on enhancing citizen participation in the process. The involvement of civil society structures and the pressure for change is the impact factor that will make the improvement process effective and successful. Successful implementation of the project will be a realization of the 12 principles of good governance of the Council of Europe for development by improving democratic culture and civic awareness.

The problems of municipal governance with district division and the participation of citizens in the process of policy formulation and implementation date from the period of formation of local self-government in Bulgaria. The idea of the project has become topical with the processes that have evolved over the last few years related to the over-development of housing estates, deterioration of the air quality, the increase in the number of vehicles, as well as the overall reduction of the capacity to serve of the social and technical infrastructure.

Project activity 1. Preparation of a study of the legal framework of the management of municipalities with district division in Bulgaria and obstacles for effective participation of citizens in the management of the district / municipality

Expected results: Report with the results of the study of the legal framework of the management of the municipalities with district division in Bulgaria and obstacles for the effective participation of the citizens in the management of the district / municipality on the basis of: summarized and analyzed information from 70 surveys; conducted 44 in-depth interviews; 6 focus groups with 60 participants.

Project activity 2. Survey of the European experience and practices in the management of municipalities with district division

Expected results: Comparative analysis of the legislative and institutional framework for the management of major European cities; Systematized good practices for citizen participation in the management of large European cities with district division; Report on the results of the study.

Project activity 3. Confirmation and publication of research results

Expected results: Conducted three round tables with 40 participants each; Publication of a study "Legal framework of the management of municipalities with district division in Bulgaria and obstacles for effective participation of citizens in the management of the district / municipality"; Publication of the study "European experience and practices in the management of municipalities with district division".

Project activity 4. Conducting structured public discussions, based on the "Public Forum" model, for the preparation of proposals for changes in Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna.

Expected results: Conducted 3 public forums with three sessions - one in each municipality - and elaborated proposals for legislative changes; Increased capacity of decision-makers, administration and citizens; Improved activity and motivation of decision-makers, administration officials and citizens; Published debate reports and proposals for legislative changes.

Project activity 5. Conducting a public campaign to support legislative changes that create conditions for active civic participation in municipalities with district division

Expected results: Conducted three roundtables in the municipalities with district division to present the results of the public forums; National conference on the adoption of a common position on the recommendations for legislative changes and their submission to the Council of Ministers and the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works for further approval.


www.activecitizensfund.bg

This document was created with the financial support of the Active Citizens Bulgaria Fund under the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism. The sole responsibility for the content of this document lies with RDIA Mizia and the FLGR, and under no circumstances can it be assumed that this document reflects the official opinion of the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism and the Operator of the Active Citizens Bulgaria Fund.

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