Saturday

21st Apr 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

News in Brief

  1. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  2. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  3. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  4. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  5. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  6. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  7. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  8. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  2. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  3. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  4. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  5. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  6. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  7. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  10. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  11. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia

Latest News

  1. ECJ ruling set to end 10-year 'mouth tobacco' lobbying saga
  2. Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK
  3. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes
  4. Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform
  5. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  6. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  7. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  8. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector
  2. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  3. Europea Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris
  4. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  5. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  6. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  7. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  8. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  9. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  10. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  12. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights