четвер, 3 листопада 2011 р.

Ukraine on a way to miss EU association opportunity, experts say

Українська версія прес-релізу
Відео прес-конференції / Video of the press-conference
Implementation of most priorities (70 out of 78) of the EU-Ukraine Association Agenda (AA) identified for 2011-2012 is still in progress, with Ukraine reaching substantial advance in putting into practice 20 AA priorities, primarily in security, economic, trade and visa liberalization sectors. In general, however, Ukraine’s implementation of the AA priorities stays uneven.
These are the major conclusions of a monitoring report, prepared by a civil society’s monitoring of the EU-Ukraine Association Agenda implementation in January-October, 2011[1]. The report was presented on November 3rd, 2011 at a press conference in Kyiv. The monitoring is supported by the International Renaissance Foundation (OSI Network).
“Ukraine’s key, strategic task now is to initial the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement”, comments Yulia Tyshchenko, the director of the project, the head of the board of the Ukrainian Centre for Independent Political Research, a think tank. “If Ukraine considers itself as a democratic, free country, respecting principles of the rule of law and human dignity, it has no other alternative. If Ukraine loses this historic chance, the country will be thrown back to uncertainty”, she says.
Experts of the civil society monitoring stress that the EU-Ukraine Association Agenda is primarily an action plan for internal reforms and transformations able to bring Ukraine closer to the European values and standards. Particularly, there is an acute need for reforms in the fields of political dialogue and the rule of law. These sectors constitute a habitual homework for Ukraine, its authorities and its society, and show the need for more and wider progress.
However, between January and October 2011 Ukraine showed symptoms of reform stagnation in the fields of political dialogue, rule of law and independence of the judiciary. Despite optimistic declarations of the Ukrainian authorities, today’s situation can lead to the slowdown of Ukraine’s EU integration progress.
According to experts, most priorities of the EU-Ukraine Association Agenda now stay under the implementation stage. Ukraine has fully implemented only 2 out of 78 analyzed priorities; it is still implementing 70 priorities, and fell short to implement 6 priorities. Although priorities for 2011-2012 were adopted only in July, 2011, majority of them coincide with those identified for implementation already last year (in 2010).
Some positive trends are visible in the economic field. It was reported on October 20th that EU and Ukraine have finalized negotiations on the EU-Ukraine deep and comprehensive free trade area (DCFTA). If the Association Agreement is signed and ratified, the DCFTA chapter will open the way for Ukraine’s real economic integration into a large European single market of more than 500 million consumers.
Experts also point at some positive trends in implementing priorities in the security field, migration policy and visa liberalization. For example, Ukraine has reached substantial progress in developing Ukrainian personal data protection system, having ratified and implemented Council of Europe’s 1981 personal data protection Convention and its Additional protocol. Besides, Ukraine has reached substantial progress in ensuring legal and institutional support to migration policy. Ukraine has established a coordination mechanism to implement the EU-designed Visa liberalization action plan and established a relevant Coordination centre.
However, this monitoring also showed substantial regress in implementing political dialogue priorities.
A parliamentary election law proposed by the government ignored basic recommendations provided by the Council of Europe and OSCE/ODIHR. It has a number of procedural deficiencies which can potentially endanger free and fair elections in Ukraine.
The monitoring experts point a regress in implementing a comprehensive constitutional reform in Ukraine. Monopolization of the political system has destroyed constitutional checks and balances mechanism. Non-constitutional practices reappear, when, for example, the President gives non-constitutional orders to the public administration bodies or performs other functions not corresponding to provisions of the Ukraine’s Constitution.
Slowdown was registered in ensuring freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association, as well as civil society cooperation.
The monitoring points at ambiguous and controversial trends in the judiciary field which do not facilitate Ukraine’s rapprochement with EU standards and rule of law principles.
Experts also point at inaction of the authorities in preparing and implementing reforms aimed at enhancing local and regional self-governance. Moreover, clear bias towards centralization of the regional policy has been observed by the monitoring.
The monitoring underlines ambiguous trends in the field of the administrative reform. Its implementation, lacking a clear and well-grounded concept, led to more centralization of the executive, dominated by a single political force.
A task to put into practice efficient fight against corruption mechanisms remains declarative. Measures taken, even though with some positive aspects, mostly do not correspond to the European standards of combating corruption.
Throughout 2011 Ukraine lacked a systemic public policy aimed to counteract discrimination against different minority groups. Protection against discrimination or assistance to discrimination victims are totally absent.
Reforms in the technical regulation field were slow. During the last 12 months (October 2010-October 2011) Ukraine adopted only two new technical regulations. Low level of implementing earlier adopted regulations remains a substantial challenge for the country.
Ukraine’s accession to the Energy Community sets a task for the Ukrainian government to implement complex energy sector reforms, which opens an opportunity to create a state-of-the-art energy market model. However, if the reform pace remains as low as it is now, Ukraine will not be able to use majority of the advantages provided by the Energy Community.
Generally, slow pace of AA priorities implementation shows that EU-modeled institutional and modernization reforms face serious obstacles in Ukraine.
Ukrainian authorities expressed confidence that negotiations on the Association Agreement, including establishment of an FTA, will be finalized by the next EU-Ukraine summit (December, 2011). However, these expectations were pronounced before Yulia Tymoshenko conviction. The Tymoshenko trial was seen by the EU as a symptom of selective justice and of politically motivated persecution of the opposition
This state of affairs can lead to stagnation of the Ukrainian EU progress. This stagnation, however, will have a direct impact on life of ordinary Ukraine’s citizens, depriving them of an opportunity to live, in the near future, in a country ensuring human rights, democratic values and the rule of law.
Participants of the conference : Yulia Tyshchenko, the Head of the Board of the Ukrainian Centre for Independent Political Research; Olexandr Sushko, Research Director of the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation; Veronika Movchan, Research Director of the Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting; Olexandr Banchuk, expert at the Centre for Political and Legal Reforms.
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 monitoring is a part of a project «Implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agenda: experts’ view» performed in January-October 2011 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. The monitoring involved in total 30 experts of the Ukrainian NGO think tanks.
Contacts: Director of the project – Yulia Tyshchenko, tyjulia@gmail.com; Coordinator of the project – Svitlana Horobchyshyna, sveta@uncpd.kiev.ua
More information (video of 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/
Full text of the report (in Ukrainian) and previous reports (in Ukrainian and English): http://es-ukraina.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_6301.html
Description of the project:
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 atwww.irf.ua

[1] Association Agenda priorities for 2011-2012 practically coincide, in their content, with last year’s AA priorities (2010), which were officially adopted and which were implemented by the central executive bodies. Central executive bodies adopted plans of their implementation for 2011-2012.

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