Wednesday

23rd May 2018

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

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.

Supported by

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  2. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  3. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  5. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  7. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  10. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  11. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach
  12. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May

Latest News

  1. 'Killer robot' projects eligible for EU defence fund
  2. Funding for European values needs radical changes
  3. Feeble EU format deflates Zuckerberg 'hearing'
  4. Are EU data watchdogs staffed for GDPR?
  5. EU pessimistic on permanent US trade exemption
  6. US asks EU to go after Russian and African villains
  7. Facebook threatened with removal from EU-US data pact
  8. Defence firms 'reap benefits' of advice to EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  2. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  5. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  7. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  8. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  9. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  10. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  11. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight