By Dan Byrne for AMLi
THE EUROPEAN UNION has cast doubt on Ukraine’s progress in the fight against corruption after reviewing recent events in the country.
In a statement accompanying their 2020 ‘Association Implementation Report’ on Ukraine, the European Commission said that even though the country continues to implement new, agreed measures – challenges still remain.
“Recent decisions by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine have called into question the country’s achievements in the fight against corruption,” the EC said. “And have reconfirmed that a robust judicial reform remains vital.”
The court decisions in question are very recent developments at the highest legal level in Ukraine.
In August, the country’s Constitutional Court ruled that certain provisions surrounding the national anti-corruption watchdog (NABU), including the method of appointing a director, were null and void.
The Commission’s report criticised this decision as a move which “undermined NABU’s independence.”
Separately in October, the court ruled certain anti-corruption laws unconstitutional. This essentially made it illegal for authorities to monitor the assets and lifestyles of Ukrainian officials, or access data concerning violations or inspections.
Although legislative initiatives are being pursued to restore the annulled rules, and to reform the Constitutional Court, the rulings cannot be appealed under the current legal framework of Ukraine.
Meanwhile “several positive developments took place, notably the High Anti-Corruption Court (HACC) handing down its first verdicts,” The EC statement read.
In addition, the level of collaboration between the NABU and the Specialised Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAPO) was deemed to have seen improvement.
However, these initiatives were not given a complete seal of approval, with the EC noting that even though these systems were operational, the level of convictions from corruption investigations “remains low for the time being.”
Overall, the EC noted that reforms in Ukraine were being pursued against a very turbulent backdrop – with Russian political interference, the continuing conflict in the Donbass region and the COVID-19 pandemic all aggravating the situation.
Despite these setbacks, “Ukraine has continued to make progress on its reform path,” said EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Police Josep Borell.
“It is crucial that Ukraine’s political leaders continue these efforts and make reforms irreversible, particularly regarding the rule of law. The Ukrainian people expect it.”
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