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From London to Brussels

Sunday, 09 July 2023, 18:05

I left London and the Ukraine Recovery Conference with a strong feeling of optimism: Ukraine cannot fail, the recovery is on track, its potential is enormous and the international support stronger than ever. I have never heard so many European leaders talk about Ukraine’s EU membership. And so many business representatives talk about the investment opportunities in Ukraine. Some talked about corruption. The Director of Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau was probably the only one who in a breakout session talked about the challenges and the need to strengthen the anti-corruption work. Indeed, he has a point that only becomes more urgent in light of the upcoming recovery and EU integration.

In Brussels, the day after the London conference, the European Commission published its Oral Update on Ukraine’s EU preparations. Of the seven steps of priorities, Ukraine has completed two and progress in the implementation of the other five is on track. Anti-corruption is one of the seven steps that is not yet fully completed. At the EUACI, we are closely following developments in the anti-corruption area, providing support and facilitating progress. 

The fact is that the anti-corruption structures are delivering more results than ever. New high-level cases are being investigated, some officials caught red-handed. The performance of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau and the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutors Office has improved and they are processing more cases. We witness an increasing number of corrupt politicians and high-level officials receiving their guilty verdict in the High Anti-Corruption Court, some end up in prison. This year 32 verdicts were delivered so far, almost the same number as the whole year of 2022. Since September 2019, when the Court was established, 80 persons were sentenced to imprisonment and 28 are now serving prison sentences. The group of convicted persons includes 5 members of parliament, 1 deputy minister, 21 judges, 4 prosecutors, 10 local government representative and 26 managers of state and communal enterprises. Not many years ago, these high-level officials would have impunity. No one could touch them. At the moment, the Court is considering 251 cases regarding 617 persons. These statistics are impressive and they are delivered by a newly established Court during times of war.


However, more should be done to improve the capacity and framework of the anti-corruption institutions. In his Oral Update, the Neighbourhood and Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi asks Ukraine to take further systemic measures, in particular by restoring the e-declaration system and implementing the adopted State Anti-Corruption Programme. For us working with anti-corruption, these are key steps to be taken by Ukraine in order to further enhance the prevention and fight against corruption. The implementation of the State Program will not only substantially enhance the anti-corruption institutions and provide them with more capacity and autonomy. It will also improve countering corruption in a number of key sectors, for instance education, infrastructure, defense and the judiciary. 

Restoring the e-declaration system has been up for discussion since last autumn. This system was a cornerstone in the corruption fight, paving the way for a number of investigations into illicit enrichment and other corrupt behavior. Not only an instrument for the law enforcement bodies but also a tool for the important work of investigative media and civil society partners. We all understand why the system was suspended in March 2022. Now, the situation is different and there is no reason why it cannot be restored today. 

Ukraine is well on track on its EU-integration path as mentioned in the Oral Update. We know the EU will keep a very close eye as to developments in the field of anti-corruption. And here there is still more work to be done. We will continue to assist and support Ukraine’s multi-faceted anti-corruption infrastructure while preparing for the next phase of the EUACI with a strong focus on EU-integration and reconstruction.

By the Head of the EU Anti-Corruption Initiative in Ukraine, the EUACI, Allan Pagh Kristensen

Disclaimer: Articles reflect their author’s point of view and do not claim to be objective or to explore every aspect of the issues they discuss. The Ukrainska Pravda editorial board does not bear any responsibility for the accuracy of the information provided, or its interpretation, and acts solely as a publisher. The point of view of the Ukrainska Pravda editorial board may not coincide with the point of view of the article’s author.

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