Saturday

18th Aug 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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

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.

News in Brief

  1. Germany and Greece strike deal on taking back migrants
  2. Merkel confronts far-right critics: '2015 will not be repeated'
  3. UN: Predictable disembarkation process urgently needed
  4. Slovenia set to select former comedian as prime minister
  5. Polish president to veto election rule helping big parties
  6. MEPs blast UK 'alphabetical approach' on citizens rights
  7. EU hits back over Salvini's blame for bridge collapse
  8. Poll: Sweden's social democrat-led government set to win again

Opinion

'Nativism' and the upcoming Swedish and Bavarian elections

Swedes head to the polls in September in a national parliamentary election, while Bavarians vote in October in a state election. In both elections, voters' nativist sentiments may well help determine the outcome.

Supported by

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  2. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  3. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  4. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  5. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  6. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  12. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma

Latest News

  1. EU gets record response on 'summertime' consultation
  2. 'Nativism' and the upcoming Swedish and Bavarian elections
  3. Former Malta opposition leader fears for his life
  4. Women shun EU-funded site for female entrepreneurs
  5. Building a Europe more resilient to terrorism
  6. Brexit talks resume as chance of 'no deal' put at 50:50
  7. US trial sheds light on murky Cyprus-Russia links
  8. Burned cars fuel Swedish election debate

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  4. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  6. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  8. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  9. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  11. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  12. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us