Friday

23rd Jun 2017

Focus

Denmark leads Ukraine anti-corruption drive

  • Enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn and Danish foreign minister Kristian Jensen listen to former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski in Kiev (Photo: European Commission)

The EU has unveiled a €16 million programme to fight corruption in Ukraine, amid concerns that the country’s officials are undermining a key reform.

Denmark’s foreign minister Kristian Jensen, whose country has been chosen to implement the three-year long programme, weighed into the row over a new computerised declaration of interests system for public officials.

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 e-declaration system aims to make public officials criminally liable for providing false information, and was one of the conditions for Ukrainians to receive visa-free travel to the EU.

But groups in Ukraine’s parliament have filed amendments to weaken the system, in a move condemned by the country's anti-corruption committee.

And anti-corruption activists say bureaucrats have also tried to sabotage the system.

“We fully share the view of the anti-corruption committee - there should be no changes made to the law,” Jensen told EUobserver on the phone from Kiev, where he was unveiling the new scheme alongside EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn.

“Commissioner Hahn and I raised that in our meetings with [Ukrainian] prime minister Volodomyr Groysman,” he said.

Hahn told journalists in Kiev: “Delays have already left a bad impression. No-one should forget that the EU is watching carefully as the final decisions are taken on visa liberalisation.”

Ukraine remains one of the most corrupt countries in Europe, despite the 2014 Maidan revolutionaries demanding an end to graft.

Jensen has called on his EU counterparts to step up help for Ukraine’s reform efforts, which, according to the minister, are hampered by “vested interests” and a lack of organisational and financial capacities to implement anti-corruption measures.

The programme aims, among other things, to support the newly established anti-corruption bodies. Ukraine had to appoint a special prosecutor and may set up special anti-corruption courts, as existing institutions have proven unable to bring corrupt leaders to justice.

The EU also wants to help the parliament’s anti-corruption committee to scrutinise and implement legislation.

The programme’s final pillar will be to support civil society, which is a leading player in the fight against dishonest dealings.

The scheme will also comprise two pilot projects against corruption, which will take place in two provinces.

One EU official told this publication that in the end, it is up to Ukrainians to make sure that corrupt leaders are removed.

“That’s not our role. We can just support anti-corruption bodies and organisations to do that, but they have to own the process,” the official said.

The head of the parliament's anti-corruption committee, Yehor Soboliev, told EUobserver he was enthusiastic about the programme.

“The goals of the programme is great, this is what we wanted,” Soboliev said.

But Daria Kaleniuk, a leading anti-corruption activist who was consulted by EU officials in preparations of the programme, said she had expected more.

“We expected more practical intervention,” she said, mentioning “joint EU-Ukraine teams of prosecutors to work with Ukrainian anti-corruption bodies on cases of joint jurisdiction”.

She worried that large parts of the €16 million would be spent on European experts.

“We already have our own anti-corruption experts,” Kaleniuk said, “and to be frank, experts are not very effective”.

Only law enforcement could root out corruption by putting corrupt officials in prison, she said.

Kaleniuk has been vocal about how the EU has helped to facilitate corruption, for instance by not doing enough to stop money being siphoned off to EU countries.

But she said the EU played a pivotal role in the fight against corruption and that it had managed to make a change with its visa liberalisation and budget support processes, which all put conditions on Ukraine’s government. She welcomed the strong language coming from the EU.

The anti-corruption programme has not been fully formulated, and the specific initiatives are expected to be rolled out from the start of 2017.

West shows $1bn of faith in Ukraine

The IMF has shown faith in Ukraine’s reform efforts by disbursing more money. A new ceasefire deal has also given fresh hope of peace.

Ukraine visa deal hangs in the balance

A row over the introduction of a computer system for officials to declare their interests threatens to torpedo Ukraine's visa deal with the EU.

Little to celebrate at EU-Ukraine summit

EU leaders have pledged to uphold sanctions on Russia in the run-up to a summit this week, but the declaration comes amid multiplying uncertainties on future ties.

In cooperation with

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders renew vows to uphold Paris climate deal
  2. US issues warrant for VW managers, German media say
  3. EU extends sanctions against Russia
  4. Merkel denies Franco-German deal on EU agencies
  5. Dutch PM: Turkey is upholding migration deal
  6. Britain to outline rights of UK-based EU citizens
  7. Tusk can 'imagine' the UK still remaining in EU
  8. Norway offers more blocks for Arctic oil exploration

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  2. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  3. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  4. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  5. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  6. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  7. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  8. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?
  10. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Charges: What Does It Entail?
  11. World VisionWorld Refugee Day, a Dark Reminder of the Reality of Children on the Move
  12. European Social Services ConferenceDriving innovation in the social sector – 26-28 June

Latest News

  1. Decision on post-Brexit home for EU agencies postponed
  2. May's offer on citizens’ rights dismissed as ‘pathetic’
  3. 'Historic' defence plan gets launch date at EU summit
  4. EU pressures firms to tackle online terrorism
  5. Lack of eligible candidates dogs EU relocation scheme
  6. Border management going virtual
  7. Tusk hints UK could stay in EU, if it wanted
  8. Merkel, Orban and the not quite closed Balkan route