Ukraine makes important progress in its reforms, but more needs to be done - EU report

Ukraine makes important progress in its reforms, but more needs to be done - EU report

Ukraine has made important progress in its reforms over the past year, but more needs to be done, in particular, on the judiciary and fight against corruption.

This is stated in the Association Implementation Report published by the EU on Friday, according to the EU Delegation to Ukraine

The report, which was prepared by the European External Action Service and the European Commission, monitors the implementation of the commitments under the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement over the past year - since November 2017.

"Ukraine has made progress in a number of important areas over the past year, but several outstanding reforms still need to be reinforced so that Ukrainian citizens can fully reap the benefits of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area," reads the statement. 

At the same time, the report notes the slower pace of reforms in the areas of the judiciary and anti-corruption measures, and emphasizes the need to reinforce the reform momentum. While the renewal of the judiciary continued, there have been only few convictions in high-level corruption cases so far.

The establishment of the High Anti-Corruption Court remains a test case in this regard. 

The EU also stressed that "attacks against civil society activists need to be properly investigated and sanctioned."

Other areas, as noted by the report, have seen more positive progress. As a result of sustained economic reforms, for example, many large state-owned enterprises have continued to increase profits under the steering of independent supervisory boards, while hundreds of smaller ones have been successfully privatized.

Regarding the energy sector, Ukraine has continued to implement the legislation on energy efficiency. The Energy Efficiency Fund was set up with substantial financial support from the EU. However, the report notes "little progress" in the creation of independent gas and electricity transmission system operators and the need to step up legislative approximation in the transport sector.

Progress has been achieved on sanitary and phytosanitary issues, company law, public procurement and environmental protection. The deep and comprehensive free trade area has played a significant role in increasing trade between Ukraine and the EU, which shows the importance of further work to approximate legislation and standards.

"The Ukrainian authorities are carrying out difficult but rewarding reforms in very challenging circumstances. The results of these reforms are bringing clear benefits to the Ukrainian people: overall trade between the EU and Ukraine has increased by 24% in 2017, opening new markets for Ukrainian businesses, while over half a million Ukrainian citizens have travelled to the EU under the visa free regime and over 7,200 academic exchanges have taken place under Erasmus+," EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said. 

She said that the European Union will continue to accompany and support the Ukrainian authorities to deliver the reforms demanded by the Ukrainian people, whilst fully supporting Ukraine's independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty.

"Ukraine has advanced in a number of important and demanding reforms over the past year, including healthcare, pensions, decentralization, public administration, public procurement and the environment. These are all vital for the implementation of the Association Agreement and therefore for a more prosperous and stable Ukraine," EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn said.

According to him, now, in Ukraine's pre-election period, it is crucial to maintain the reform momentum and to make these changes irreversible. There cannot be roll-back on issues such as anti-corruption efforts, he said. 

The commissioner handed over the report to Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman in Kyiv on Friday.

The Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine entered into force on September 1, 2017.


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