Коментар Представника України при ЄС К.Єлісєєва для видання "Kyiv Post"
On Sept. 18 the Cabinet of Ministers proudly announced the formal approval of the draft Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union, thus completing the technical procedure for signing the treaty at a summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, at the end of November. However, to actually sign the agreement, Ukraine needs to take a number of legal steps.
Ukraine’s parliament leading up to Sept. 19 made the first ones by approving five requisite bills. They set the re-election date for five parliamentary seats in single-mandate districts, strengthen judicial independence, improve prison conditions for inmates, change customs tariffs and regulate the enforcement of court decisions. Kostiantyn Yelisieiev, Commissioner of Ukraine for foreign policy and integration processes, says the first step has not gone unnoticed.
“Even the biggest pessimists or skeptics could realize that indeed for this couple of months Ukraine did a lot in order to meet the (EU signing) criteria,” Yelisieiev says. “All these reforms have been long-awaited since the 1990s, when Ukraine became a member of the Council of Europe and only right now Ukraine started finally doing what needed to be done many years ago.”
Most of the legal requirements boil down to three blocks. One is related to electoral legislation, another relates to reforming the judicial system, and the third to a general overhaul of Ukraine’s governance in line with the EU-Ukraine association agenda, according to Yelisieiev.
A draft law on prosecutorial reform has also been sent to the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe’s advisory body on constitutional issues, Yelisieiev added with regard to the first two blocks.
To check the third and last box, the government has now approved a public finance management strategy, and the legislature on Sept. 19 apdopted a bill amending the Constitution to give more powers to parliament’s Accounting Chamber, which monitors government spending.
These constitutional amendments, if approved by the Constitutional Court and parliament, will create an institutional framework for the judiciary in line with recommendations set forth by the Venice Commission, says Igor Davydenko, a partner of the Kyiv office of Dentons, an international law firm.
“Still, with no political will to immediately overhaul the corruption-ridden and selective justice prone judiciary, these amendments are unlikely to bring about tangible results in the foreseeable future,” Davydenko adds.