EU notes progress of reforms in Ukraine
The European Union has noted progress in implementing reforms in Ukraine, but stressed the need for their acceleration, according to the 2nd Joint Association Implementation Report on Ukraine produced by the European External Action Service and the European Commission.
"In the course of 2017, mechanisms for policy coordination, steering and monitoring of the implementation of the Association Agreement were being set up by the government, which led to uneven progress of implementation in various sectoral areas. The report stresses the urgent need to streamline various reform tracks in Ukraine and accelerate the pace of implementation in 2018," reads the report, which was published by the EU Delegation to Ukraine on Wednesday, November 15.
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said that there had been a number of long-awaited achievements since last year's report. In particular, the Association Agreement entered into force, and Ukrainian citizens were granted visa-free travel for short stay visits to the Schengen area, but the implementation of reforms needs to be accelerated.
"We remain convinced of the fundamental commitment of the Ukrainian President, government and Rada to deep-seated reform of the country. Of course this has not been a straightforward process: corruption is deep-rooted and there are vested interests that need to be overcome; naturally there are setbacks along the way that we must contend with. We are at times critical, and we insist on certain conditions, yet we are aware of how much Ukraine has already changed, with much more having been achieved in the past three years than in the decades before that, and under very challenging circumstances. The European Union will stick with Ukraine," EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn said.
The report notes that the year 2017 also witnessed important legislative developments in areas such as the electricity market, energy efficiency, environment, education and decentralization. Furthermore, key reforms such as pensions, healthcare and food safety were initiated. Justice sector reform continued with the adoption of a new law on the Constitutional Court and the setting up of the new Supreme Court. The implementation of the Strategy on Public Administration Reform has advanced and the reforming of law enforcement bodies continues.
"Ukraine has continued to advance measures to tackle corruption, but that further steps need to be taken in order for these measures to have tangible benefits. The electronic declarations of assets submitted nearly a year ago by high-level public figures and officials, for example, have yet to be analyzed. The number of convictions when it comes to high-profile cases of alleged corruption also remains low; the rapid establishment of an anti-corruption court, in line with the recommendation of the Venice Commission, would be essential in this regard," the report says.
The EU drew attention to the "consolidated stabilization of the economy." As a result, in September 2017, after four years, Ukraine returned to the international capital markets raising over EUR 2.5 billion ($3 billion) with a 15-year maturity.
Ukraine's overall trade with the EU increased by 28.4% in January-July 2017 compared to the same period in 2016.
"The European Union continues to fully support Ukraine's independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty. We condemn and do not recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation. The European Union also continues to support the diplomatic efforts to find a lasting peaceful solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine through the complete implementation of the Minsk Agreements," reads the report.