EventsEventsPodcasts
Loader
Find Us
ADVERTISEMENT

Euroviews. In less than a year, Ukraine has made major strides toward EU membership

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and EU leaders Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel in Brussels, 9 February 2023
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and EU leaders Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel in Brussels, 9 February 2023 Copyright AP Photo/Euronews
Copyright AP Photo/Euronews
By Mark Temnycky, Journalist, Nonresident Fellow, Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Centre
Published on Updated
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent in any way the editorial position of Euronews.

Recent events suggest that Kyiv is serious about its EU aspirations and will continue to do what it takes, especially in the middle of a war, to become fully integrated into the EU, Mark Temnycky writes.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been devastating. 

One-fourth of Ukraine’s population has become displaced due to the Russian incursion. Hundreds of thousands have died, and numerous cities and villages have been destroyed.

Unfortunately, the war continues without an end.

While the Ukrainians defend their country on the battlefield, they are also addressing a different battle — none other than the fight against corruption. 

'Considerable effort under very difficult circumstances'

Before the Russian invasion, Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranked Ukraine 122nd out of 180 countries and territories. 

The CPI rankings are determined by perceived levels of public sector corruption. Simply put, the ranking was poor.

But as time has progressed, the Ukrainians have taken their graft issues seriously. One year later, CPI ranked Ukraine 116th out of 180, a six-place rise.

There is still much work to be done, but the recent changes suggest that progress is being made in the Eastern European country of almost 44 million.
AP Photo/Virginia Mayo
A member of cabinet wears a ribbon in the Ukraine colors during a round table meeting of EU foreign ministers at the European Council building in Brussels, May 2023AP Photo/Virginia Mayo

There is still much work to be done, but the recent changes suggest that progress is being made in the Eastern European country of almost 44 million.

This was most apparent last summer when the European Union awarded Ukraine with EU candidate status. 

During the ceremony in June 2022, the European Council “acknowledged the considerable effort that Ukraine has made under very difficult circumstances.” 

Then, in February 2023, Ukrainian officials met with their European counterparts to discuss their progress. 

A diverse portfolio of asks

The EU’s seven recommendations for how Ukraine can reform its government include a diverse portfolio of asks, including reforming the judicial system, including the establishment of a High Court, and transparent and independent selection of candidates to become judges of the Ukrainian Constitutional Court.

Brussels also required Kyiv to show progress in fighting and eliminating institutional corruption, addressing anti-money laundering and implementing law enforcement reforms, and enforcing anti-oligarch laws.

AP Photo/Andrew Kravchenko
A woman uses a cellphone while traveling in a subway in Kyiv, March 2023AP Photo/Andrew Kravchenko

Also, Ukraine was expected to do further work in promoting greater freedom and autonomy in the Ukrainian media and protecting national minorities within the country.

How is Ukraine engaging with the EU? How is the Eastern European country addressing these seven recommendations?

ADVERTISEMENT

Firing of high-ranking officials amid corruption scandals

In a meeting held earlier this year, the EU announced a 32-point plan for assistance to Ukraine. 

Simultaneously, the European Commission published a report in February that tracked the attempts of Ukraine to meet obligations required by EU membership, and it offered guidance on reform. 

The report stated that Ukraine has continued as a “resilient democracy moving closer to the European Union and gradually aligning with the [EU’s] acquis.”

These developments suggest that the Ukrainians are serious about reforming their judicial system and that officials are working to eliminate corruption.
AP Photo/Daniel Cole
People dance to techno music during a warehouse rave in Kyiv, February 2023AP Photo/Daniel Cole

For example, Ukraine has worked tirelessly to reform its judiciary system. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Also this year, the Eastern European country passed judicial legislation sought by the EU, as outlined in one of its seven recommendations to reform the government. This included appointing new members of Ukraine’s High Council of Justice. 

On a similar note, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy fired several high-ranking officials amid several corruption scandals. 

These developments suggest that the Ukrainians are serious about reforming their judicial system and that officials are working to eliminate corruption. The EU has commended these efforts.

A new law barring oligarchs from funding parties and protests

In promoting transparency, Ukraine recently announced an e-government application and digital platform that allows Ukrainians to “engage with their government online”.

ADVERTISEMENT

The program, known as Diia, will enable Ukrainian citizens to apply for “benefits and government programs to paying taxes, accessing important documents, registering and running businesses, and providing identification and digital signatures.” 

The US Agency for International Development has praised the application, stating it is the “gold standard in e-government.” 

The development of this application, and its progress, suggest that the Ukrainians understand the importance of transparency across the government.
AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky
People look at a new postage stamp design depicting the burning Kremlin as they pass by a City Hall in central Kyiv, January 2023AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

The development of this application, and its progress, suggest that the Ukrainians understand the importance of transparency across the government.

As for anti-money laundering, law enforcement, and anti-oligarch laws, Ukrainian authorities recently completed dozens of searches nationwide. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Law enforcement seized “luxury watches, cars, and thousands of dollars in cash.” The raids are an attempt to make the country more transparent. 

Similarly, the Ukrainian parliament passed a law that “bans oligarchs from financing political parties, political ads, or demonstrations.”

Progress was made regarding minority rights, too

On a similar note, the Ukrainian government is also trying to limit the power of the oligarchs in the media. 

A recently passed Ukrainian law “increases the government’s regulatory power over TV, radio, and news websites.” Ukrainian officials state the bill “was developed in line with … Council of Europe standards.”

ADVERTISEMENT
As for national minorities residing in Ukraine, the government is pursuing legislation to protect these communities.
AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky
Flower sellers chat in an underground crosswalk in central Kyiv, December 2022AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

Finally, as for national minorities residing in Ukraine, the government is pursuing legislation to protect these communities. 

In their recent legislation, the Ukrainians stated that they guarantee the protection of the rights, freedoms, and interests of minority groups. 

This includes the right to the use of language, self-identification, public and peaceful assembly, economic and social life, education, and participation in political, economic, and social life.

The ball is in the EU's court now

Having addressed the seven recommendations, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal reiterated his belief that the Ukrainians are ready to pursue further integration efforts. 

ADVERTISEMENT

In a recent announcement, Shmyhal stated that the country had fulfilled and completed the seven recommendations outlined by the EU. 

This would suggest Ukrainians have made tremendous progress in reforming their country during the Russian war.

Regardless of the verdict, recent events suggest that Kyiv ... will continue to do what it takes, especially in the middle of a war, to become fully integrated into the EU.
AP Photo/Armando Franca
People demonstrate outside of the Dutch embassy in Lisbon in support of Ukraine joining the EU, June 2022AP Photo/Armando Franca

Now, the Ukrainians will patiently wait for feedback from their European counterparts.

The European Commission is scheduled to meet in mid-December to review and assess Ukraine’s progress. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Regardless of the verdict, recent events suggest that Kyiv is serious about its EU aspirations and that it will continue to do what it takes, especially in the middle of a war, to become fully integrated into the EU.

Mark Temnycky is an accredited freelance journalist covering Eastern Europe and a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Centre.

At Euronews, we believe all views matter. Contact us at view@euronews.com to send pitches or submissions and be part of the conversation.

Share this articleComments

You might also like

Ukraine 'optimistic' about EU membership chances

Poland and Ukraine sign 'unprecedented' military agreement

Hungary's Orbán makes first trip to Kyiv since Russia's full-scale invasion