The fight against corruption is a priority and a pre-condition for good EU – Ukraine relations, an EU official said following the 4th Association Council held in Brussels on 8 December.
The discussion over the democratic reforms came central following up the mounting international pressure over the authorities in Kiev for failure to fight high-level corruption.
Latest strains involving Ukrainian anti-corruption bureau were brought on the table during the Council plenary meeting with Brussels “passing a clear message” the EU expects “things to progress at good pace”, the official added.
The fight against corruption is the foundation for all reforms. Much has been achieved but there are some policy conditions in the fight against corruption that still have to be met, the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said after the meeting with the Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman.
Describing the meeting as ‘’intensive and positive’’, Mogherini said the EU concerns over ‘’some developments’’ were raised and the Ukrainian authorities were called to ’’reinforce efforts to ensure the independence, operational capacity and full effectiveness of the national anti-corruption institutions’’.
The EU ‘’will continue to work together and to follow closely the actions and proposals of the relevant Ukrainian authorities in this field,
the EU high representative assured, stressing Europe relays on the civil society in the anti-corruption work in Ukraine.
The EU, the US State Department, the IMF and the World Bank issued strong statements during the week, after the Ukraine’s top prosecutor denounced the anti-corruption bureau NABU’s investigators for overstepping the law in a recent probe of suspected corruption in Ukraine’s migration service. The Verhovna Rada is currently considering a law that would allow the parliament to dismiss NABU director Artem Sytnyk. Under heat from the Ukraine’s biggest donors president Petro Poroshenko withdrew the draft law to rewrite it.
The joint statement of the EU-Ukraine Association Council also recognizes NABU’s ‘’significant investigative work on high-level cases of corruption’’. The document stresses ‘’the need to continue curtail efforts’’ and to ‘’ensure the necessary independence, full effectiveness and of sufficient resources for specialized anti-corruption institutions’’.
However, the language of the joint statement is softer then the EU reaction on Monday, and the document doesn’t mention the latest around the NABU.
At the press conference Mogherini and Groysman declined journalists’ questions citing time-constraints.
The Ukrainian PM endorsed president’s decision to introduce a law on establishment of a special anti-corruption court assuring it will start working already next year and will be ‘’a very strong force in our fight against corruption’’.
We won’t leave any stone unturned in the field of anticorruption, Groysman said in a statement.
On Monday a spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief denounced public disclosure of a corruption investigation by the General Prosecutor Office, stating the decision “significantly weakens the capacity of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) to effectively conduct investigations and undermines public trust in an effective fight against corruption.
A regular in the Europen capital, president Poroshenko this time didn’t arrive for the Association Council meeting in Brussels opting for a visit to Lithuania. However, the outspoken president Dalia Grybauskaitė was not diplomatically silent and tweeted after their meeting that ‘’anti-corruption reforms are painful, but the future of Ukraine is worth it’’.
— Dalia Grybauskaitė (@Grybauskaite_LT) December 8, 2017
EU-Ukraine AC – Press-Release
EU-Ukraine AC – Joint statement
Federica Mogherini’s statement after the AC meeting
Statement of the spokesperson on recent developments in the fight against corruption in Ukraine