More than four months have passed since Ukraine received EU candidate status with a number of recommendations to be fulfilled for further promotion to membership.
The New Europe Center in partnership with a number of specialized Ukrainian think-tanks and NGOs carried out the second independent monitoring of Ukraine’s implementation of EU recommendations. Please find the results of the “Candidate Check-1” (as of August 17, 2022) here.
OVERALL SCORE : 4.7 points (was 4.4).
In general, the scores of experts in most areas remained at the same level as two months ago. The best progress in 2.5 months has been made in the implementation of the Constitutional Court reform, while the assessment for the implementation of the reform of the High Council of Justice (HCJ) and the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine (HQCJ) has been slightly lowered. In other areas, we see little or no progress.
Experts’ scores (on a 10-point scale):
- Reform of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine – 3 points (was 0)
- Reform of High Council of Justice (HCJ) and the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine (HQCJ) – 6 points (was 7)
- Anti-corruption: SAP (Specialized Anti-corruption Prosecution) and NABU (National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine) – 6 points (the score has not changed)
- Combating money laundering – 5 points (the score has not changed)
- Anti oligarch reform – 2 points (the score has not changed)
- Media legislation – 6 points (the score has not changed)
- Legislation on national minorities – 5 points (the score has not changed)
Some key findings from the second monitoring:
+ In the judicial sphere, Verkhovna Rada’s adoption of the draft law on the Constitutional Court reform in the first reading became a positive news.
+ Experts note an improvement in the situation with effective investigations of top corruption after the appointment of the head of the SAP in August.
+ In September, Verkhovna Rada adopted a draft law on media, which was revised after consultations with civil society and media organizations. In November, the assessment from the European side was received.
– The judicial sphere: in August, the congress of scientists elected a member of the High Council of Justice (HCJ), to whose integrity experts had significant questions.
– In the field of anti-corruption, a discriminatory law was adopted in September, introducing new requirements for the director of NABU.
– At the beginning of November, the newly created channel “We are Ukraine” with non-transparent funding was included in the national television marathon.
A brief summary of 7 reforms implementation by the New Europe Center:
In general, in 4,5 months after obtaining the EU candidate status, we can state Ukraine’s moderate progress in implementing EU recommendations, necessary for further progress towards membership – the average expert score is 4.7 out of 10.
On the positive side: experts did not give 0 points in any area. In each sphere, at least some steps were taken towards the preparation of reforms: mainly it concerns the development of the legislative framework (for example, drafting and adoption in the first reading of the draft law on the Constitutional Court reform, as well as the draft law on media, the development of which involved expert and media organizations etc.).
Qualitative progress in the implementation of reforms can also be noted in certain areas: in particular, experts note success in strengthening the fight against corruption after the appointment of the head of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office in July this year. In particular, effective investigations of top corruption have improved. Experts also welcomed the appointment by the parliament in August of two decent members to the High Council of Justice (HCJ), etc.
In some areas, however, we can observe mixed signals: in particular, the authorities have a number of developments for a comprehensive strategic reform of the law enforcement sector – documents that could have been adopted as early as September this year. However, there is no movement on the authorities’ side in this direction.
At the same time, such inhibition is not always due to Ukraine’s fault: for example, the Ukrainian side could not submit the draft law on media to the second reading before receiving the opinion from the European Commission and the Council of Europe, which were received in November. A conclusion on the draft law on national communities is still being awaited, and Ukraine has been waiting for the conclusion of the Venice Commission (VC) on the “anti-oligarch law” since 2021.
Finally, as noted by the expert group that worked on the second edition of “Candidate Check”: some steps of the decision-makers are of outright concern, as they contradict the commitments undertaken by Ukraine. Thus, despite the recommendation of the Venice Commission, the Ukrainian authorities appointed 4 new judges to the Constitutional Court of Ukraine before the adoption of legislation on the Constitutional Court reform; in August, the congress of scientists elected a member of the HCJ, to whose integrity experts had significant questions. In the field of anti-corruption, a discriminatory law was adopted in September, introducing new requirements for the NABU director (lawyers who, after February 24, went abroad for more than 21 days for personal reasons cannot participate in the competition).
The last observation: if we compare the first and second “Candidate Check” monitoring, we can observe a certain slowdown in the pace of reform implementation that occurs in various areas for both objective and subjective reasons, which could be corrected. The increase in the score compared to the previous monitoring, which we presented in August, is insignificant – the score increased by only 0.3.
Overall, in 4.5 months, the greatest progress took place in the areas of anti-corruption, reform of the High Council of Justice (HCJ) and the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine (HQCJ) , adoption of media legislation. However, the implementation of any of these recommendations is perfect. According to the results of “Candidate Check-2”, the greatest progress took place in the field of the Constitutional Court reform.
The New Europe Center would like to express gratitude to partners who participated in the second independent monitoring of EU reforms implementation:
- National Interests Advocacy Network ‘ANTS’
- Anticorruption Action Centre ‘ANTAC’
- DEJURE Foundation
- European Pravda
- Centre of Policy and Legal Reform (CPLR)
- Transperency International Ukraine
- Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research (UCIPR)
- Institute of Mass Information (IMI)
- Detector Media
- Mykhailo Zhernakov (DEJURE)
- Oleksandr Marusiak, Roman Smaliuk, Eugene Krapyvin (CPLR)
- Olena Halushka, Anton Marchuk (ANTAC)
- Andrii Borovyk, Kateryna Ryzhenko, Oleksandr Kalitenko (TI)
- Oksana Romaniuk (IMI)
- Vadym Miskyi (Detector Media)
- Serhii Sydorenko (European Pravda)
- Yulia Tyshchenko (UCIPR)