Ukraine is reforming with Association Agreement serving as roadmap. Accomplishments
Representatives of Ukrainian government and parliament present positive results that Ukraine achieved in reforming guided by the provisions of the Association Agreement with the EU and of its trade part – Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement in particular. Civil society acts together with authorities on international arena and fulfils the watchdog function inside the country. Internal institutional changes remain the main challenge.
Over the last two-three years Ukraine has achieved serious progress on the way towards European integration in comparison to the previous years of independence, stated representatives of the Ukrainian government, parliament as well as of the EU Delegation to Ukraine during a discussion at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
Achievements in reforming
Positive achievements include setup of anticorruption agencies, start of decentralization reform, reforms in energy sector, of public procurement system, state-owned companies and civil service. Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, Deputy Prime Minister on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine emphasized importance of the start of the judicial reform, the launch of anticorruption agencies and the e-system for asset declaration. “The e-declaration system is unprecedented for Europeans. We count on the newly established institutions and on the National Agency for Corruption Prevention in particular, that it will adopt the rules and clear procedures to be able to hold checks and actively engage in work,” the Deputy Prime Minister noted. Selection system for judges received a very positive feedback from the international partners, she added.
Deputy Prime Minister reminded that in the first nine months of 2016 Ukraine’s turnover with the EU increased by six per cent. The EU has become Ukrainian main trade partner by volume and reached up to 41 per cent. This year it is planned to further enhance the turnover increase and achieve it through granting additional autonomous trade preferences as well as by decreasing non-tariff barriers. Last year the updated Memorandum of Understanding in energy sector was signed and it foresees establishing strategic partnership between Ukraine and the EU.
Klympush-Tsintsadze said that Ukraine has fulfilled the Visa liberalization action plan fully, the issue is currently in a merely political dimension.
EU’s financial assistance to Ukraine
Thomas Frellesen, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine, said that the Association Agreement is “the most comprehensive agreement that the EU has ever engaged in with a third country”. Frellesen reminded that in 2014 the EU provided over 4,3 billion euro of assistance for Ukraine in grants and loans, half of which has already been allocated. Macrofinancial assistance constitutes 3,4 billion euro, 2,2 billion of which has already been allocated. Eight more billion euro is foreseen as concessional loans for public infrastructure and private sector investments by the European Investment Bank and the EBRD, half of this amount has been allocated.
Ukraine’s task this year is to build up its institutional capacities and improve coordination between the state agencies. “A joint institutional mechanism is required for the Parliament and the government. A structure is required that will be responsible for harmonizing Ukrainian legislation with the EU standards, that will monitor and post-monitor the changes as well as assess the regulatory impact. The mechanism needs to be stipulated by law,” explained Maria Ionova, MP, acting head of the parliamentary committee on European integration.
Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze and Maria Ionova emphasized that support with expertise on the part of the civil society is very important for the government.
The role of civil society
Civil society feels the moment when they need to move from their “watchdog” function to cooperation with authorities. Last year civil society actors provided professional expertise, recommendations, travelled to the EU to meet the partners and to present actual processes and progress to them. Ukraine’s civil society may well include the positive developments of the visa-free regime with the EU into their list of achievements, said Iryna Sushko, expert of the Reanimation Package of Reforms during the discussion “Europe without barriers” at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “Last year civil society was controlling each move that authorities were making to combat corruption, and was communicating reforms in the EU as this niche was empty,” she said.
Civil society should continue monitoring activities of the authorities. “We plan to move from occasional to comprehensive monitoring of how the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement is being implemented,” concluded Mykhailo Rudenko, secretary of the Ukrainian side of the EU-Ukraine Civil Society Platform.