Archive for September 12th, 2012

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Embarrassment as a motivational lever? EU Visa-free and Ukraine

September 12, 2012

Last week the EU appraised Moldova against the Visa-free road-map it was given, pretty much at the same time as Ukraine was given the same road-map.

The up-shot of that appraisal?  Moldova has overtaken Ukraine and can now move from Stage 1 to Stage 2 of the said road-map.  In short it has its technical and legislative act together whereas Ukraine quite simply hasn’t.

Why hasn’t Ukraine got its technical and legislative act together?  The answer is of course, vested interests.  Vested interests alongside a RADA comprised of a majority, from all parties, that are simply unfit to be MPs due to the lack of intellect, law drafting ability and critical thinking.  We won’t even go down the integrity route.

The two major obstacles that have caused Ukraine to be overtaken by Moldova, which is a national embarrassment that I will explain shortly, have been firstly the vested interests over just whom would get the deal to produce tens of millions of biometric passports on behalf of Ukraine, in line with the road-map, and a very lucrative deal that will be.

Needless to say, there have been squabbles amongst the elite over just who would land this contract.  A decision has recently been made, but during the year or so this in-fighting has lasted, Moldova has plodded quietly along.

The second major obstacle has been that of legislation relating to data protection and a single consolidated list of just who lives in Ukraine that holds Ukrainian citizenship and thus would be entitled to hold a new biometric passport.

I kid you not, there is no single list of all citizens in Ukraine that currently exists.  There are regional tax lists, regional voters lists, regional OVIR lists, property registers, registered vehicle owners etc, but there is, as yet, no single national list where everybody is listed.

Again, here, Moldova has stolen a march, although it is a much smaller geographical area with a far smaller populous if we are in need of very limp excuses.

And now to the embarrassment issue.  Moldova and the Moldavians are seen by Ukrainians and Russians alike, something akin to how the Irish are  by the British – they are the butt of all jokes when it comes to stupidity and being intellectually challenged.

Therefore, to have been given a road-map to Visa-free travel within the EU at the same time (or there abouts) as Ukraine and to now be starting on Stage 2 of that road-map whilst Ukraine is nowhere near completing Stage 1, is nothing short of a national embarrassment for the current government.

So much of an embarrassment in fact, that on the day the EU announced Moldova will now begin Stage 2 of the Visa-free road-map, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Konstyantyn Gryshchenko issued a statement stating that Visa-free travel for Ukrainians was the upper-most priority for the Foreign Ministry.

Indeed, almost immediately, the laws on data protection topped the priority list in the RADA and on Thursday 6th September, almost immediately after the news from the EU relating to Moldova reached the ears of the Ukrainian legislators, some 254 of the 349 registered MPs that day voted for a bill on amending certain legislative acts of Ukraine concerning the protection of personal data.

The draft law proposes to change the scope of the law of Ukraine on the protection of personal data, particularly establishing that it applies to all actions on personal data processing, and not only databases with personal data.

The document also proposes to regulate the issue of the cross-border transfer of personal data, and define the European economic area countries, as well as the countries that signed the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data, as those that provide an adequate level of personal data protection in the case of transferring personal data to other countries.

In short, Ukrainian national and legislative pride was hurt by the EU announcement and the fact that Moldova has its act together, over this issue at least, far more than that of Ukraine.

Given that so far, EU carrots and sticks have a very limited effect on Ukrainian politics, even if they have a greater effect on policy, maybe continual embarrassment with comparison to the butt of all Ukrainian jokes, namely Moldova, will have much more of an effect in other areas?

It has certainly generated a political and legislative response this time.

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