Ukraine has made significant progress in implementing political and economic reform and taken concrete steps to clampdown on institutionalised corruption, the EU has said.
In a joint report released ahead of the third EU-Ukraine Association Council next week, the European External Action Service and the European Commission note that the Ukrainian government has established new anti-corruption institutions and introduced fresh legislation to crackdown on systemic wrongdoing, which it is beginning to implement.
The report found Ukraine has limited the opportunity for corruption by reforming the energy and banking sectors, and introduced new legislation to strengthen judicial independence and reorganise the court system. It also notes the adoption of a new human rights strategy, and that Ukraine successfully met all benchmarks under the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan, which led to the EC’s proposal to lift visa obligations for Ukrainian citizens.
Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, said: “Ukraine has taken important steps to address the key, systemic challenge of corruption both by limiting the scope for corruption in a number of areas, and strengthening the means to pursue wrongdoers.
“This work must continue, and bring real change to the way the country operates.
“Tackling corruption and creating a reliable judicial system are also key to transforming the business climate and rebuilding prosperity. The European Union will continue to support Ukraine in these efforts, both politically and financially.”
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said commented: “Ukraine has taken big steps in the last two years, under very difficult circumstances, not least the conflict in eastern Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol. Today’s report fully recognises this work done by the Ukrainian authorities.”
The findings of the report came as sharp contrast to comments made at the beginning of October by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which said Ukraine had yet to produce any solid evidence that its efforts to stamp out high-level corruption were bearing any fruit.
According to the lender, progress in tackling corruption in Ukraine had “been slower than envisaged against [a backdrop of] significant political resistance”. The IMF warned that cracking down on “corruption and reducing the influence of vested interests on policy making remain key challenges” in Ukraine, and that the slow pace of reform threatened to derail the country’s fragile economic recovery.
The EU report was published days after the European Court of Auditors (ECA) said Ukraine is still perceived as being the most corrupt country in Europe, despite its ambitious programme of reform. A report from the ECA found EU funds allocated to Ukraine to help the country fight corruption have had limited impact, and that policy-making decisions in the country are still shaped by organisations and individuals with vested interests.