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Candidate Check-4: Where Ukraine is in the implementation of 7 EU recommendations

More than ten 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 fourth independent monitoring of Ukraine’s implementation of EU recommendations.

Please find the results of the “Candidate Check-1” (as of August 17, 2022) here, “Candidate-Check-2” (as of November 8, 2022) here and “Candidate Check-3” (as of February 1, 2023) here.

OVERALL SCORE: 6.8 points (was 5.8).

Experts’ scores (on a 10-point scale):

  1. Reform of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine – 2 points (was 2)
  2. Reform of High Council of Justice (HCJ) and the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine (HQCJ) – 8 points (was 7)
  3. Anti-corruption: SAP (Specialized Anti-corruption Prosecution) and NABU (National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine) – 8 points (was 7)
  4. Combating money laundering – 6 points (the score has not changed)
  5. Anti-oligarch reform – not rated (was 2)*
  6. Media legislation – 9 points (the score has not changed)
  7. Legislation on national minorities – 8 points (the score has not changed)

*Please note the change in the evaluation methodology! Since Ukraine received 7 recommendations in June 2022, the implementation of recommendation №5 has been effectively frozen due to the lack of a conclusion from the Venice Commission (VC).

At the same time, sources indicate that the EU has changed its attitude to this criterion: it considers other mechanisms to overcome the excessive influence of oligarchs more effective than the implementation of an “anti-oligarch” law.

In view of this, the «Candidate Check» panel of experts decided to withdraw its previous score (2 points) and not to assess the implementation of this recommendation at all. The assessment will be resumed after the VC provides its conclusion and/or the EU publishes its position on this issue.

In order to accurately reflect the dynamics of the implementation of the 7 reforms, we consider it appropriate to recount the results of previous editions of “Candidate Check” using the new evaluation methodology:

  • “Candidate Check-1” (2 months of candidacy) – 4.8 (was 4.4)
  • “Candidate Check-2” (4 months of candidacy) – 5.2 (was 4.7)
  • “Candidate Check-3” (7 months of candidacy) – 6.5 (was 5.8)

Summary of the implementation of 7 reforms by the New Europe Center:

Over the course of more than 10 months, Ukraine has demonstrated significant progress in implementing 7 EU reforms, with an average expert score of 6.8 out of 10.

Reforms #2 and #3 are nearing completion: 17 out of 21 members of the High Council of Justice of Ukraine (HCJ) have been appointed, and the latter have already begun interviews with 32 finalists for positions in the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine (HQCJ), two of the most important judicial bodies in Ukraine. In the field of anti-corruption, heads of the Specialized Anti-corruption Prosecution (SAP) and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) have been appointed (the latter still needs to demonstrate competence and political independence in his work). NABU, SAP, and the High Anti-Corruption Court of Ukraine (HACC) are also showing high activity in cases of top-level corruption.

Work is continuing on finalizing reforms #6 and #7: the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (VRU) adopted, in the first reading, the law on advertising that will complete the unification of Ukrainian media legislation with the EU Directive on Audiovisual Media Services. The development of bylaws to implement the law on national minorities is also ongoing.

At the same time, there is some stagnation in the implementation of recommendation #4: in September, the VRU adopted a series of legislative acts in the field of money laundering that bring Ukraine closer to FATF standards, but there has been no progress in implementing this part of the recommendation since then. Also, since the beginning of January 2023, approval of the Comprehensive Strategic Plan for Reforming Ukraine’s Law Enforcement Sector by the Office of the President is still awaited.

The implementation of the anti-oligarch reform has been effectively frozen since Ukraine was granted candidate status in June 2022, due to the absence of a Venice Commission opinion on the relevant law. As a result, experts do not evaluate the implementation of this recommendation.

The only truly problematic sector remains the reform of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine. The mechanism for selecting judges to the Constitutional Court provided by the new law of December 13, 2022, does not comply with the recommendations of the European Commission; and the bill No. 9225 registered on April 20 further increases the risk of political control over the Constitutional Court.

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)
  • Detector Media

Experts involved:

  • Mykhailo Zhernakov, Stepan Berko (DEJURE)
  • Oleksandr Marusiak, Roman Smaliuk, Eugene Krapyvin (CPLR)
  • Anton Marchuk (ANTAC)
  • Oleksandr Kalitenko (TI)
  • Vadym Miskyi (Detector Media)
  • Serhii Sydorenko (European Pravda)
  • Yulia Tyshchenko (UCIPR)
  • Hanna Hopko (ANTS)

Source: New Europe