Monday

22nd May 2017

Ukraine visa deal hangs in the balance

  • Borispol airport in Kiev: The EU said it would lift the visa requirement for Ukrainian citizens in October (Photo: Vladimir Kud)

The prospect of Ukrainians gaining visa-free travel to the EU is fading, amid a bitter row over the introduction of a computer system for public officials to declare their interests.

The measure was the final remaining condition set by the EU to allow visa waivers.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The government put the system online on 15 August, which was the agreed deadline.

But the state service for government communications (SSSCIP) refused to certify the system, saying technical problems mean that the system was incapable of properly protecting information.

The lack of certification means information from the system cannot be used to prosecute officials.

Critics accused the SSSCIP of deliberately sabotaging the introduction of the system in order to protect corrupt officials.

President Petro Poroshenko vowed last week that the system would be launched on time.

“Electronic asset declarations will be launched on 15 August,” Poroshenko wrote on his Facebook page last Thursday (11 August). “I'm not considering another date and can't even hear of a delay! I'm asking you not to believe in rumours and speculation.”

The system is linked both to the lifting of visas for Ukrainian citizens wishing to travel to the EU, as well as payment of the next tranche of funds from the International Monetary Fund and other financial assistance from the EU and the World Bank.

Corruption is the main obstacle to granting Ukrainians visa freedom, an EU source told this website in June.

The EU Delegation to Ukraine said it was “very disappointed and concerned” by the launch of an incomplete system.

The delegation said the system needed to be certified “to ensure criminal liability for making false statements”.

“This is essential for making such a system work and contribute to combating corruption, in accordance with Ukraine's commitments to the EU and to the international community,” the delegation wrote on Facebook.

“From what we understand there are no substantive reason for withholding certification. Certification should be provided without further delay.”

Ukrainians will be bitterly disappointed if the issue of e-declarations forfeits their chances at visa free travel. The deal has been negotiated for eight years already.

But Yehor Sobolev, an MP of the Self-help party and head of the anti-corruption committee in Ukraine’s parliament, said his country needed “tough love” from the EU.

”The position of our key international partner should be firm. Corruption means no visa freedom. Indeed, it is very easy for the Ukrainian government to implement anti-corruption legislation that we - the MPs - have adopted. And that is what Ukrainian society needs,” Sobolev told this website.

Focus

Denmark leads Ukraine anti-corruption drive

The EU has unveiled an anti-corruption scheme for Ukraine, amid concerns that its officials and lawmakers are undermining a key reform in the fight against villainy.

Letter

An open letter to ministers on the audiovisual directive

The ongoing revision of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive is a key opportunity to reduce exposure of Europe's children to advertisements of health-harmful products – an opportunity that should not be missed.

Portugal held up as symbol of EU recovery

Portugal to sail out of troubled waters after eight years of financial crisis, EU commission predicted, amid broad but "fragile" recovery in European economy.

EU wary over Ukrainian weapons in South Sudan

Ukraine, which had signed an EU arms embargo on South Sudan, has since sold attack helicopters used by the government forces in Juba against civilians and hospitals.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  2. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  3. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes Patients
  4. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  5. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  7. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  8. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  9. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  10. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  11. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Cost of Speaking Out: Human Rights Violations Committed in Belarus