EU's weakness v. Ukraine's fraud: Why European integration laws are distorted

Author : Yuriy Panchenko

Source : 112 Ukraine

Ukrainian government reported about the results of the implementation of EU legislation in 2016
23:19, 9 March 2017

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Last week, Ukrainian government reported about the results of the implementation of EU legislation in 2016.

The discussion of the successes (well, the results of implementation of the legislation could be definitely called successes) revealed major problems that impede Ukraine’s European integration.

We can talk about some structural problems in the field of legislation.

The first is that the government does not have leadership positions in lobbying for the necessary legislative changes.

Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze recognizes, despite some striking achievements, Ukraine’s formal success in the European is rather modest. "In particular, out of 126 directives that we had to implement in the Ukrainian legislation in 2016, only 36 were implemented, and only 23 of them were implemented completely," she explained.

What caused this?

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Profile government officials are persuaded that one of the reasons for this situation is that many important initiatives are submitted not by the government, but as the parliamentary initiatives.

Formally - there is no difference, who submitted the bill. Its content and the success of adoption are most important. However, the parliamentary initiatives simplify the possibility of making amendments without the consent of the government, not even telling the government that the bill is changed.

Another undesirable consequence is that the members often insist that the government gave them the opportunity to submit the profile bills. For example, Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Viktor Dovgan commented on a similar situation with the relevant law on road transport.

According to him, the deputies initially insisted that the bill should come from the deputies and then - that it should be split into two document;, but currently its adoption is hindering. "Unofficially, we were told that certain positions, which are very significant for the EU, are totally unacceptable, and therefore without their exclusion there would be no progress," Viktor Dovgan claimed.

And that is not the only problem associated with features of the Verkhovna Rada.

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According to Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, a significant portion of parliamentary initiatives contradicts the obligations of Ukraine to the EU. This collision forces to create some "special filter" in Ukrainian parliament, which would infiltrate the initiatives.

However, such a filter already exists in parliament! First of all, it's relevant committee on European integration. A "little problem" exists only on paper. But in practice the committee has no rights to voice its position. The parliament simply does not give it that right, although proposals to strengthen the role of the committee have been heard long ago.

Thus, the problem is not the lack of tools, but the desire to use it.

The third problem comes from this, and the theme of European integration has become a cover for promoting its own interests.

One of the vivid examples is the inability to agree on the "tobacco bill" #2820. Currently, tobacco companies and activists to combat smoking, differently interpret European legislation, offering two fundamentally different initiatives.

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In the absence of a clear governmental position on this topic, progress in this direction depends on the readiness of the parties to compromise.

"Ukrainian center of European politics" CEO Lyubov Akulenko is convinced that the lack of ability to compromise is one of the key causes of failure to implement the EU standards.

Finally, one more reason should be called, which was barely forgotten during the government presentation - EU is gradually losing its ability to be "the last resort" in determining compliance with European legislation bills.

The first example of this is the President’s veto of the "environmental" law "On Environmental Impact Assessment" (№2009a-d), which was part of the European integration package. For the first time the industry lobbyists managed to cast doubt on Ukraine's implementation of commitments to the EU.

The second example is even more scandalious. It is a moratorium on the export of unprocessed wood, which directly contradicts the Association Agreement.

Arguments of the EU are now simplified with populist slogan "They demand our forest in exchange for visa-free regime," or "we sell Carpathian forests in exchange for one more tranche." In this situation, the government actually came out of the discussions, fearing to lose its image.

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What are the chances that these problems would be solved in 2017? And more importantly - whether mechanisms to make such precedents impossible would be established?

Currently, there is no confidence. Late last year, the EU adopted an informal decision to abandon public criticism of the government. And the possibility of obtaining the second tranche of macro-financial assistance without performing our core conditions (including lifting the moratorium) would be finally confirmed.

EU actually does not have a tool to lobby for pro-European change, and the government often has no desire to do so.

However, as 2016 year has demonstrated, even in such a situation, the success of the European integration and overcoming resistance to change system is possible.

Related: EU cannot let the world forget about Ukraine - European Commissioner

Let us just remember the epopee with the electronic declarations. A clear position of the EU and uncompromised mind of the civil society have supported this initiative. The synergy of these efforts ensure a successful outcome. This proves that even the most stubborn resistance could be overcome. However, the difference of 2017 realities is that the issue of visa-free regime with Ukraine is are already solved - accordingly, the possibility of EU’s lobbying changes is significantly reduced.

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