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Ukrainian parliament approves lobbying law by European Commission requirements

Friday, 23 February 2024, 15:44
Ukrainian parliament approves lobbying law by European Commission requirements
Voting in the Ukrainian parliament. Photo: Yaroslav Zhelezniak

The Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian parliament) in its session on 23 February has approved bill no. 10337 on honest lobbying, which was one of the additional requirements set by the European Commission for opening negotiations on Ukraine's accession to the EU.

Source: European Pravda, citing Interfax Ukraine

A total of 236 MPs voted in favour of bill No. 10337, surpassing the required 226 votes, approving the project in its entirety. 

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The adoption of the lobbying law was one of the four additional requirements set by the European Commission, outlined in the November 2023 enlargement report. However, it faced criticism because of the concern that its provisions might pose obstacles to the legitimate activities of expert NGOs advocating for various reforms.

The law establishes the legal framework for lobbying activities in Ukraine, outlining the rights and obligations of the entities involved. It envisages the creation of a Transparency Register at the National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP), reporting by those identified as lobbying entities, and monitoring their compliance with lobbying rules.

The law is set to come into effect two months after the launch of the Transparency Register but no later than 1 January 2025.

The Anti-Corruption Action Center NGO expressed its position before the vote, stating that the bill in its current form does not address the issue of lobbying by individual MPs and advisers within government agencies. 

Iryna Herashchenko, co-chair of opposition party European Solidarity's parliament faction, noted that some amendments insisted upon by NGOs were considered before the second reading, but not all, "so there is a risk of different interpretations of certain norms."

Denys Maslov, chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Legal Policy from the Servant of the People party, stated that before voting in the second reading, they had "reviewed the essence of lobbying" and identified commercial interest as a key marker of lobbying. 

"The determining factor for considering whether a person's influence on the adoption of a regulatory act is lobbying or not will depend on their commercial interest," he noted.

Political forces, media, religious organisations and election candidates will not be allowed to advance their interests through lobbyists, Maslov said. He also stated that due to the amendments, reporting requirements for lobbying entities have been simplified: exact financial figures will not be required, but reporting on meetings with top officials will be mandatory.

An upcoming summit of EU leaders in March is expected to assess Ukraine's recent steps towards starting accession talks. These steps include the approval of a law on lobbying.

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