Tuesday

12th Dec 2017

Opinion

Ukraine: Notes from a European construction site

  • Economic figures speak for themselves (Photo: marcovdz)

Ukraine fights for reforms

Over the last two years Ukraine has remained high on the world news agenda. Nevertheless, many people catch themselves thinking about Ukraine only when something bad is happening there.

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.

Adepts of realism were, and many still are, sceptical about the prospects of, as they say, a weakened country which passed through a revolution, overburdened with a legacy of corrupt governance, and facing the aggression of a much stronger neighbour.

But reality is proving the opposite and today (Monday 7 December), in the run up to the second meeting of the EU-Ukraine Association Council, designed to take stock of the implementation of the Association Agreement, it is time to tell another story: about a country of brave and creative people who are pushing for modernisation, while rebuffing aggression.

It is worth putting rhetoric aside and letting the economic figures speak for themselves.

To put a country back on the path of economic growth, a credible program of structural reforms is needed. In the Ukrainian case, credibility could be most accurately measured by a $17.5 billlion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan. The IMF lent its shoulder to our reforms but also enabled us to receive support from other international partners, including the European Union.

By applying tailor-made measures, the government also managed to reduce the country’s financial deficit, increase debt sustainability and stabilise its currency. It also improved public spending by stopping huge subsidies to inefficient branches and state-owned enterprises.

Ukraine’s foreign reserves have grown from $5 billion to $13 billion. This quarter, compared to the previous one, the Ukrainian economy finally demonstrated growth, of 0.7 percent.

Many positive changes are also due from the preparation for provisional application of the the EU free-trade pact, the DCFTA, from 1 January 2016.

Conclusion of an agreement on restructuring of Ukraine’s external debt of $ 18 billion, including writing off $3 billion of the debt burden, proves investors’ belief in the economic recovery of Ukraine and gives us confidence in the path chosen.

This confidence is also embodied in a recent decision of three leading credit agencies to upgrade Ukraine’s sovereign rating to a stable one.

Corruption

Overcoming of rampant corruption, which is rightly believed to define the renaissance of Ukraine’s economy, by paving the way for competitiveness of business actors and for the well-being of the Ukrainian people, is also high on the agenda.

There is a long list of anti-corruption bodies already established in Ukraine, including ones which are completely new and revolutionary for our society. While some time is needed to prove their efficiency, the energy sector and public procurement are good edxamples to get a feeling of changes already achieved.

To root out corruption from public procurement, this year Ukraine has started introducing an e-system, ProZorro (better understandable in English as “transparent”), as a first phase of reform in this sector. Responsible for more than 26 thousands tenders worth $253 million, ProZorro has already saved about $18.6 million of public funds.

In the energy sector, important legislation was passed which introduces the norms of the EU’s third energy package, aimed at breaking up gas corruption and lessening the burden on the budget.

A good illustration is improved efficiency in the biggest Ukrainian energy company, Naftogas. In the first nine months of 2015, the company made a profit of $8.7 million, a significant step forward compared to te $1.8 billion of losses for the same period last year.

However, without rule of law any good intentions are doomed to fail. A detailed strategy has been put in place to strengthen public trust in the judiciary and the relevant constitutional amendments have already received a green light from the Venice Commission.

Newly trained police officers are on Ukrainian streets.

A competitive selection process for renewal of local prosecution offices is also underway. Together, with ups and downs, we are moving to a completely new system of justice.

Construction site

Today Ukraine looks like a giant construction site. The picture is very sketchy, and many of the results are behind the scenes, ranging from deregulation and improvement of the business climate, to strengthening of the national security system, purification of the bank system, and decentralisation.

A lot remains to be done. It can’t be achieved overnight.

But there is one thing that makes me optimistic about the future of my country: the Ukrainian people, whose devoted belief in the ideals of dignity, freedom, and democracy are shaping a new European Ukraine.

It is also the reason why I am confident that it is worthwhile for the European Union to support Ukraine both in restoring its territorial integrity and in its endeavours to reform the country.

Liubov Nepop is Ukraine's acting ambassador to the EU

Russia, IS: EU values under attack

If the EU doesn't support the Ukrainian people in their fight for freedom it not only betrays their belief in us, but the very values the EU is meant to uphold.

Iceland: further from EU membership than ever

With fewer pro-EU MPs in the Iceland parliament than ever before, any plans to resume 'candidate' membership of the bloc are likely to remain on ice, as the country prioritises national sovereignty and a more left-wing path.

News in Brief

  1. EU to Israel: Don't expect us to move embassies
  2. EU Commission condemns anti-semitic 'Jerusalem' protests
  3. Ministers have 'lots of questions' on new CAP plans
  4. Commission: Brexit agreement is 'deal between gentlemen'
  5. 25 EU states sign defence cooperation pact
  6. Netanyahu wants 'hardy' talks with EU on Jerusalem
  7. French centre-right elects new leader
  8. Germany and UK increase arms sales

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  2. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  3. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  5. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  6. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  7. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  8. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  9. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties
  10. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  11. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe
  12. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage

Latest News

  1. Alignment with EU is 'last resort', May tells MPs
  2. Iceland: further from EU membership than ever
  3. Israel presses Jerusalem claim in EU capital
  4. From dark coal toward a brighter future
  5. UK casts doubt on EU deal in 'bizarre' twist
  6. Romania wants EU signal on Schengen membership
  7. Germany says China using LinkedIn to recruit informants
  8. No chance of expanding EU warrant crime list

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Centre Maurits CoppietersCelebrating Diversity, Citizenship and the European Project With Fundació Josep Irla
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceUnderstanding the Social Consequences of Obesity
  3. Union for the MediterraneanMediterranean Countries Commit to Strengthening Women's Role in Region
  4. Bio-Based IndustriesRegistration for BBI JU Stakeholder Forum about to close. Last chance to register!
  5. European Heart NetworkThe Time Is Ripe for Simplified Front-Of-Pack Nutrition Labelling
  6. Counter BalanceNew EU External Investment Plan Risks Sidelining Development Objectives
  7. EU2017EEEAS Calls for Eastern Partnership Countries to Enter EU Market Through Estonia
  8. Dialogue PlatformThe Turkey I No Longer Know
  9. World Vision7 Million Children at Risk in the DRC: Donor Meeting to Focus on Saving More Lives
  10. EPSU-Eurelectric-IndustriAllElectricity European Social Partners Stand up for Just Energy Transition
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaSignature of CEPA Marks a Fresh Start for EU-Armenia Relations
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Ministers Pledge to Work More Closely at Nordic and EU Level