Ukraine falls short on most EU integration priorities
In 2010, Ukraine implemented only 8 out of the 70 analyzed reform priorities, outlined in the EU-Ukraine Association Agenda (AA), the key document regulating EU-Ukraine relations. Trends during the reporting period showed that progress in the reforms agenda is too slow, and a clear regress exists in a number of fields.
These are the major conclusions of the third (December 2010 – February 2011) interim monitoring report, prepared by a civil society’s monitoring of the implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agenda and presented on March 17th, 2011 at a press conference in Kyiv. The project is supported by the International Renaissance Foundation (OSI Network).
“The vast majority of priorities in political dialogue, human rights, trade, environmental policy require more actions”, comments Yulia Tyshchenko, the director of the project, the head of the board of the Ukrainian Centre for Independent Political Research. “It is also important that the government has not presented priorities for 2011 so far”, she says. “Ukraine’s administration pays minor attention to democratization and relations between the government and the society, focusing instead on economic and technological components of the EU integration priorities. This diminishes the role of the EU-Ukraine Association Agenda as a catalyst of internal reforms”, she adds.
Experts conclude that in 2010 only 8 priorities of the EU-Ukraine Association Agenda have been fully implemented by the Ukrainian government. 57 priorities are still at the implementation stage; 5 priorities have not been implemented at all.
For example, in 2010 Ukraine’s President, the Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian parliament) or the Constitutional Court have done no steps to execute an inclusive constitutional reform. On the contrary, measures taken by these authorities pushed Ukraine further away from an efficient constitutional system of checks and balances.
Administrative reform, according to experts, must be assessed negatively, since it does not settle existing problems and in some cases creates new ones. Adopted measures are in fact aimed at centralization of the power vertical and enhancement of the President’s competences.
Adoption of Ukraine’s law “On access to public information” can be seen as a significant positive step. Adoption of this procedural law was one of the EU requirements, set to encourage transparency of the activities of public authorities. In order to ensure efficient application of this law there is a need to develop additional regulatory acts.
Public administration’s measures to ensure efficiency of the election system at parliamentary and local elections do not fully correspond to principles of the OSCE and Council of Europe, and sometimes even create conditions for violating election rights.
Ukraine’s law “On Judicial Order and the Status of the Judges” increased threats to the independence of the judges. First, it established too short deadlines for examination of cases, and the judges risk to be dismissed if they fail to meet them. The new law does not establish any competition-based principles of promotion of the judges, and does not define any criteria of appointing the judges of the higher levels.
The authorities have not shown any proper enthusiasm in the field of the criminal procedure reform. The justice system (especially in criminal and administrative cases) has become controlled and administrated by public authorities and used by it as an instrument to ban peaceful assemblies, to organize criminal persecutions of the opposition or other persons posing political menace to the new administration.
Some progress has been made in 2010 in the field of administrative permissions. Abolishment of 22 types of licensed economic activities and implementation of a system of electronic state registration of economic operators has been the most important results in the field.
In the field of the fight against corruption the time of entry into force of Ukraine’s anti-corruption laws was delayed twice. Finally, in late December these laws lost their effect without even entering into force. But the draft law proposed by the President has only technical differences compared to the previous laws.
Τhe pace of adoption and implementation of the technical regulations remains far from optimal. Τhe process of renewing standards has been slowed down due to lack of budget funds, as well as delays in the adoption of a National standardization plan for 2010, adopted only on August 16th, 2010.
In the field of a reform of the national system of sanitary and phyto-sanitary control efficiency of bringing standards and practices closer to the EU remained low in 2010.
In the energy field, the Ukraine’s official accession to the Treaty establishing the Energy Community of the European Union and South-East Europe has been the most important achievement. Ukraine’s accession to the EU’s internal energy market will give a start to Ukraine’s sectoral integration into the EU, one of the elements of the future Association Agreement. At the same time, if the reform pace remains as low, as it is now, Ukraine will not be able to use bulk of benefits open within the Energy Community.
Ukraine’s biggest achievement in the energy co-operation with the EU in 2010 consists in adoption of the law “On foundations of functioning of the natural gas market”. The law provides legal foundations for reforming the Ukrainian gas market, based upon relevant EU directives. It sets up Ukraine’s concrete commitments to ensure non-discriminated access of companies and consumers to different segments of the gas market, which will create conditions for competition in the sector.
Adoption of Ukraine’s public procurement law in 2010 was a positive step to improve state regulation of the field and its approximation to the European standards. However, in six months after the adoption of the law Ukraine brought a number of amendments having a negative impact on the law’s efficiency and limiting the scope of goods and services to which the law is applied. This provoked sharp criticism from the EU side, and even suspension of the EU’s budget support program.
In the environmental field, low level of implementation of the Framework convention on climate change and Kyoto protocol is related to Ukraine’s lack of political will to fight against climate change. Lack of proper control in the field is also a negative factor.
Participants of the conference : Yulia Tyshchenko, the Head of the Board of the Ukrainian Centre for Independent Political Research; Ihor Burakovskyi, Director of the Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting; Ihor Koliushko, the head of the board of the Centre for Political and Legal Reforms; Anna Golubovska-Onisimova, President of the Ukrainian National environmental NGO MAMA-86; Yevhen Bystrytskyi, Executivedirectorof the International Renaissance Foundation.
EU-Ukraine Association Agenda (AA) is a key document regulating EU-Ukraine relations before the new Association Agreement is signed and enters into force. The Association Agenda outlines key priorities of reforms that Ukraine needs to implement to fully use the opportunities provided by the deepened cooperation with the EU. The practical aim of the Association Agenda is to clearly define priorities requiring urgent action before signature of the Association Agreement.
The third stage of the civil society’s monitoring is a part of a project «Implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agenda: experts’ view» performed in December 2010 – February 2011. The project is implemented by a consortium of Ukrainian think tanks, including The Ukrainian Centre for Independent Political Research, The Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting and The Centre for Political and Legal Reforms. The media support is provided by the international NGO "Internews Ukraine".
The project is supported by the International Renaissance Foundation.
It is implemented in co-operation with the Civil Society Expert Council under the Ukrainian section of the EU-Ukraine Cooperation Committee, as well as with the working group on Environmental EU integration, that has monitored and analyzed the “Environment” segment of AA’s priorities. The monitoring involved in total 30 experts of the Ukrainian NGO think tanks.
Contacts: Director of the project – Yulia Tyshchenko, ; Coordinator of the project – Svitlana Horobchyshyna,
More information (videoof the press conference, the full text of the report, and its summary) will soon be available at the project’s blogs: www.es-ukraina.blogspot.com, http://eu-pda.livejournal.com/
Previous reports (in Ukrainian and English): http://es-ukraina.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_6301.html
The goal of the European programme of the International Renaissance Foundation is to promote Ukraine’s European integration through financial and expert support of the civil society’s initiatives. More at: www.irf.ua