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The RADA returns – Baby-step benchmarks (It’s good to be back?)

January 12, 2015

This week the RADA returns to work – the definition of “work” not withstanding.

Naturally the issue of the reform agenda will take centre stage within this theatre of the absurd, and the timeliness and quality of any proposed and actual reform put under the microscope – not to mention its effective implementation.

It has to be hoped that the implementation runs far smoother than the debacle that was presented to the Ukrainian public (not to mention EU on-lookers) relating to the commencement of issuing biometric passports.  Any hopes of securing a favourable decision of Visa-free with the EU at the May Riga Summit – slim as they already are – will need to see a vastly improved implementation of the technical process fumbled by Ukrainian bureaucracy today when the process “went live”.  Teething problems perhaps.

There are then issues relating to several Ukrainian MPs whom the Opposition Block want to see MP mandates removed – amongst the Olexandr Turchynov, the now Secretary of the National Defence and Security Committee.

Interesting as these things are, reform they are not.

There are, however, certain small legislative steps that can be taken over the next two weeks that will be an indication as to just how reform orientated this next RADA session will be in any meaningful way.  There are a number of pending Bills to amend existing woeful and/or currently absent legislation that would give an indication that progress may actually be made by the current legislative body.

Notwithstanding a requirement to revisit the adoption of new electoral laws that failed to pass prior to the RADA elections in October 2014, in preparation for new elections – which may come sooner than some may think – the following pending Bills are something approaching reform benchmarks – as small as they may seem.

Firstly there are two anti-corruption Bills pending RADA deliberation.  Bill 0949 relating to transparency of public funds that obliges the managers of public funds to publish quarterly – on a specific single website – information on the planned and actual use of funds, in particular contracts, thus allowing citizens to assess the transparency and efficient use of state funds.  The second, Bill 1406, which seeks to amend legislation passed on 14th October under considerable public pressure, removes several inconsistencies in a badly crafted legislative text, that would adversely affect the independence and operation of the proposed National Anti-Corruption Bureau.

A second (and final) reading and vote passing Bill 1497 would send a positive signal too.  It relates to the Ukrainian judicial system and the judiciary, attempting to find a “European norm” by eliminating the political structure surrounding career judges, and replacing it with a competitive mechanism for candidates for the office of a judge.  Further it seeks to establish clear grounds for discipline and responsibility of judges – including clear parameters for their dismissal in line with “European standards”.  In short something approaching a far less political and far more coherent jurisprudence structure.

Bill 1065 seeks to introduce the European system of technical regulation for industrial goods – thus removing Ukrainian barriers that currently exist.  Something proactive regarding that “DCFTA can” which was kicked down the legal obligations calendar until a 1st January 2016 start date – and eschewing what appears to be a pending leadership/legislative excuse to do little in this regard until May when a “vision of how the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement will be implemented are clarified at the Riga Summit.”

Lastly, Bill 1357 relating to national public television awaits RADA attention.  It sets out the creation  and legalities of such an entity, sources of financing, terms of payment for employees, the formation and remit of supervisory and editorial boards etc.

As such, these already pending Bills getting RADA attention over the first few weeks of the new session would indicate movement, no matter how small or glacial, in areas of corruption, media, European integration, and judicial reform.

As Constitutional changes are required to make serious and large reformation leaps, and it is as yet unclear whether constitutional changes will be made swiftly albeit piecemeal, or en masse – in which case, the year end is most likely to be the earliest any such en masse changes occur (with a distinct possibility all could fail over a singular specific constitutional proposal enough MPs don’t like) – realistically, small but nevertheless meaningful (by way of intent) steps are all that can – and should – be expected whenever and where ever possible within the statute books, Constitution allowing.

Others of course, may have a different set of benchmarks over the next few weeks by which to measure the political will to reform within the RADA.  These are but a few pending Bills spanning but a few areas requiring major and/or structural reform to meet the aspirations of “European integration”.

Nonetheless, benchmarks must be chosen to measure progress – these are but a few suggestions to watch for during January.

Let’s see just how good it is to see the RADA back.

 

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