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Marathon Summary Aug 29, 2020

We are honored to inform you about the results of the Marathon “Summary of 1st year of 9th convocation Ukrainian Parliament and New Agenda” conducted Aug 25 - Aug 29 2020 by National Interests Advocacy Network ANTS (https://www.ants.org.ua/).


The Marathon consisted of 4 discussion panels, involving high ranking past and current government officials, Members of Parliament, leading experts, civil society leaders focusing on 4 key priorities for Ukraine - the following themes were covered:

  1. Ukraine’s Eurointegration process: breakthrough or a failure? You could watch the discussion in Ukrainian at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rT06ocyZisA&

  2. Decentralization: Achievements and Challenges in Implementing Reform". Available in Ukrainian language: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpTpMNdNuY8

  3. Legislative support of national security and defense. Mission (not) fulfilled. Available in Ukrainian language: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDXDJ0c5LZI

  4. Protecting the environment - on the way to closer cooperation with the EU European Green Deal. Click here to watch the discussion :https://youtu.be/0SyxNFu_iuw


We offer to your attention short summaries of the panels and our analysis of the first year of Parliament ( see a presentation attached) .


Day 1, Aug 25

Theme: Ukraine’s Euro Integration process: breakthrough or a failure?

Available in Ukrainian language: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rT06ocyZisA&

Participants:

  1. Olga Stefanishyna, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine;

  2. Yaroslav Sydorovych, ANTS Board Member;

  3. Serhiy Solodkyi, New Europe Center;

  4. Nataliya Mykolska, former Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade. In the government, Mykolska was responsible for developing and implementing consistent, predictable and efficient trade policy.

  5. Vadym Halaichuk, Member of Parliament of Ukraine, First Deputy Head of Committee on Ukraine’s Integration into the European Union;

  6. Ivanna Klympush-Tsyntsadze, Member of Parliament of Ukraine, Head of Committee on Ukraine’s Integration into the European Union;

  7. Oleksiy Honcharuk, Prime Minister of Ukraine (2019-2020);

  8. Lyubov Akulenko, Executive Director of Ukrainian Center of European Policy

  9. Oksana Yurynets, ANTS Member, Member of Parliament (2012-2019), ex Head of Ukraine’s delegation to Parliament Assembly of NATO


Moderated by: Hanna Hopko, Head of the Board of ANTS, Member of Parliament 2014-2019, former Head of Foreign Affairs Committee.


Main thesis of the speakers:


Progress in implementing the Association Agreement with the EU in 2020 is 26%. In 2019 - 42%. These are the data of the analytical report presented by the leading expert of ANTS Netwodk Yaroslav Sydorovych. Significant progress in 2020 has been made in the areas of economic policy and sectoral development. Instead, little attention was paid to humanitarian policy, security and defense, as well as issues of national identity and social cohesion. Detailed report is available in Ukrainian at: https://bit.ly/34JmLBm


According to Ivanna Klympush-Tsyntsadze, it is unfortunate that the issue of European integration has significantly reduced its presence in the Government's communication with society and Parliament in recent months. Today we can observe an imitation of the movement towards integration with the EU and NATO. The vast majority of decisions taken by the authorities in this direction were developed and prepared either by the former Government or by the former convocation of the Parliament. Dozens of bills were successfully re-registered as deputies of the "Servant of the People" party and voted in the new Parliament.

Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze added that during the year of the new Parliament's work, the new governments destroyed the institutional capacity to implement the terms of the Association Agreement with the EU. "For example, this applies to the merger and separation of ministries. Now the main task of the Government is to increase this capacity, not to destroy it further. […] This year we need to revise the Agreement and it is very important to involve civil society, the business community, people's deputies in this process, but so far we do not see the will of the Government to this systematic dialogue" - she said.


Olga Stefanishyna has stressed that Eurointegration progress since recently is becoming more and more systemic. Key issue is effective cooperation between Government and Parliament of Ukraine - this cooperation needs more attention. Eurointegration process is not an imitation. A lot of progress was made in customs issues, by adopting new law, implementing transit procedures. Draft law on digital communications was adopted in the first reading. This law brings Ukraine closer to EU digital agenda. We are keen on starting a new Autumn Parliamentary Session, where we have planned Parliamentary hearings on European Green Deal. There are minimum five draft laws about Eurointegration agenda - such as on standardization, on blood donorship and blood components standards etc. Regarding the NATO integration process, Parliament of Ukraine has recently adopted legislation on military procurement. We also expect the adoption of the law on intelligence activities, and hope to make progress on the law on Security Service of Ukraine.


During the discussion on the ANTS Network on Ukraine's European integration progress in the framework of the marathon to the anniversary of the 9th convocation of the Parliament, Oleksiy Honcharuk, Prime Minister of Ukraine (2019-2020), noted that in 2019 and 2020 progress in decision-making , which contribute to the acceleration of Ukraine's European integration, has not been sustainable."An objective assessment of European integration is not a failure, but it is not a breakthrough. There are things we can be proud of. For example, the completion of extremely difficult negotiations on gas transit, thanks to which Ukraine now receives money. And also on each sphere there are appreciable results. We did not hide that there were weaknesses in the European integration process. For example, reforming the SBU is a big failure, "he said.


Serhiy Solodky, First Deputy Head of the New Europe Center, confirmed that at the local level, Ukrainians and local authorities support the idea of ​​Ukraine's European integration and it is very important to make appropriate decisions as long as they have the support of society. "As long as Ukrainians support Ukraine's European integration at the level of 60%, as evidenced by the results of our study" Euromapa ", we must not lose the pace of decision-making. Today, it is important to convey how important European integration is from the OTG level to the Government. The good news is that we have not deviated from the course of European integration, we are not discussing the direction of movement. We are discussing only the pace, "he said. Serhiy Solodkyi said that the Eastern regions are showing a better pace in the process of European integration. "In the infrastructure sector, the dynamics in the Donetsk region is particularly positive. As for gender equality, we see progress in the Eastern and Southern parts. But in the field of education, Ukraine continues to remain disintegrated. Less than 10% of students are involved in the educational mobility program, which could have a positive impact on the formation of new elites "- he added.


Natalia Mykolska, an expert on strategic transformations, a member of the Supervisory Board of Ukrhydroenergo PJSC, the Trade + Center of the Kyiv School of Economics, SheExports Platform, TechUkraine: The revision of the Association Agreement is a consequence and a tool for the development of this strategy. The strategy for the development of our relations with the EU should be part of the economic strategy of Ukraine promised by the President, which does not yet exist. "


Ukrainians, especially in times of great challenges, must learn to work together to achieve strategic goals, said Hanna Hopko, Head of the Board of the ANTS Network. She also stressed that our task today, including and this discussion - to move to full constructiveness and development of priorities. According to Ms. Hopko, the Autumn session should become a playground for the "national team" to legislatively ensure the implementation of the Association Agreement with the EU.



Day 2, Aug 26

Theme: "Decentralization: Achievements and Challenges in Implementing Reform".

Available in Ukrainian language: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpTpMNdNuY8

Participants:

  1. Volodymyr Kvurt, Mayor of Vynnyky;

  2. Yulia Vusenko, Member of Lutsk City Council, Member of the ANTS Network;

  3. Andriy Sauk, Member of Brovary City Council;

  4. Yuriy Hanushchak, an expert on decentralization, director of the Institute for Territorial Development

  5. Serhiy Sharshov, Director General for Local Self-government Directorate of the Ministry of Regional Development, Communities and Territories

  6. Ostap Yednak, ANTS Board Member, Member of Parliament of Ukraine 2014-2019


Moderated by: Natalia Veselova, Member of ANTS, Member of Parliament 2014-2019


"Today's politicum has not matured, but has taken responsibility for completing the reform. Decentralization reform is the basis of the country's development. The sad thing is that at the final stage, people who do not have knowledge on local self-government took responsibility for changes,” said Volodymyr Kvurt, the mayor of Vynnyky - a town near Lviv, which was merged with the City of Lviv.


The participants of the discussion emphasized that the local elections will be held in conditions that are not clearly formulated and incomprehensible to the local authorities. Therefore, Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine should work more actively to improve the legislation that determines the functioning of the system of local self-government of Ukraine. "Local elections are extremely important. There are a number of bills that the Verkhovna Rada must adopt. Everyone is waiting for them. In particular, financial decentralization. Everyone was ready that elections to district councils would not be held in Ukraine. Today we have a decision according to which we must prepare for them. However, it is unknown how many people will be represented, how we will form them. Therefore, we must complete the reform with dignity. This reform is one of the most successful, but in the end we have a lot of unresolved issues", said Yulia Vusenko, a member of Lutsk City Council, a member of the ANTS Network.


“Communities have increased, districts have increased, oblasts have remained in place. So my question is - did decentralization or centralization take place? The information support of this reform is very insufficient ”, added Andriy Sauk, a member of Brovary City Council.


Experts have expressed differing views on how “partization” (newly adopted amendments to Election Code, which obliges candidates to local councils with 10k+ residents to be nominated by political parties only) will affect the outcome of local elections and, as a consequence, the quality of local self-government. "Today, the franchises of all political parties are sold on the ground and there is no guarantee that the most patriotic party on the ground will bring to power a person who will care only about their own interests. Therefore, the party's influence on the quality of local government is rather narrow. It seems that “partization” will only have a worse effect on local self-government, ”said Andriy Sauk, a member of the Brovary City Council.


In turn, Yuriy Hanushchak, an expert on decentralization, director of the Institute for Territorial Development, said that the affiliation of candidates to a political party provides more guarantees that the quality of office will be politically responsible. "The reform provides for a balance of powers, resources and responsibilities. The thing that is not in this triad today is responsibility. There is no responsibility of voters. It occurs at the end of their term and is rather emotional. There must be a party guarantee. In addition, the party brand is making the election campaign much cheaper”, he said.


At the end of the discussion, the experts explained that despite the existing reform plan, its successful implementation requires flexibility in responding to possible challenges. "Today, both the Government and the Parliament are acting according to the post-Maidan plan, which fully satisfied all local governments and there was a detailed description of how the reform should take place and what it will look like," said Sergei Sharshov, Director General for Local Self-government Directorate of the Ministry of Regional Development, Communities and Territories.


"Decentralization is a constant change and transformation. The last year of Parliament's work is a continuous contrast. There are breakthroughs, but there is also a lot to work on", concluded Ostap Yednak, Board Member of the ANTS Network.


Day 3. Aug 27

Theme: Legislative support of national security and defense. Mission (not) fulfilled

Available in Ukrainian language:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDXDJ0c5LZI

Participants:


  1. Yehor Chernev, Member of Parliament of Ukraine (Servant of People Faction), Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Committee on Digital Transformation, Head of the Permanent Delegation of Ukraine to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly;

  2. Maryana Bezugla, Member of Parliament of Ukraine (Servant of People Faction), Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on National Security, Defense and Intelligence;

  3. Rena Marutyan, Associate Professor of the Department of Global Studies, European Integration and National Security Management, National Academy of Public Administration under the President of Ukraine;

  4. Mykhailo Honchar, President of the Center for Global Studies "Strategy XXI";

  5. Yuri Kochevenko, director of the International Center for Countering Russian Propaganda Pavlo Podobed, political scientist, analyst at the Center for Security Environment Research "Prometheus";

  6. Dmytro Levus, Director of the Center for Public Studies "Ukrainian Meridian", Co-Coordinator of the Amber Way Public Association will be at the UMC;


Rena Marutyan spoke about the informational dimension of national security. With regard to information security, we must understand that in a hybrid war, information security is fundamental to so-called national resilience. There are various mechanisms for achieving it. As for legislation, these are legal mechanisms. If we compare the convocations of the Verkhovna Rada, the previous convocation adopted basic acts, such as the doctrine of information security, the law on the basic principles of cybersecurity and many other acts. What are the achievements of the modern Verkhovna Rada in information security? Among the pros - information and entertainment channel House, which began operating in March this year, which operates in various formats - youtube, digital, analog. The audience is not large - about 107 thousand, which is not very much. But compared to UATV, there is a slight increase. There are shortcomings and claims. Language content should be 50 to 50%. Unfortunately, currently there is 95% Russian-language content. Only news is in Ukrainian. Entertaining content - 15% are the products of Quarter 95. There are controversial bills that have caused public criticism - the draft law on media. It gives more power to the regulator, and this has caused disapproval from leading journalists' unions. But there is a commitment to the EU, according to which we were called upon to adopt the bill at least in the first reading in order to bring the legislation closer to EU standards. Here it is necessary to coordinate the interests of Ukraine and external partners. We have problems with strategic communications. Although there is a definition of strategic communication in the legislation, there are two fronts - external and internal. We have problems on both fronts of strategic communications. It needs to be brought closer to NATO standards, especially in real-world strategies.


Yegor Chernev stressed that Ukraine's course towards NATO remains unchanged and the Government and Parliament are accelerating this process. Many important events in Ukraine have been canceled or postponed due to quarantine. We had the NATO Parliamentary Assembly to take place in Ukraine in May, where we were to be visited by about 300 members of the parliaments of NATO member countries. Before we get the MAP, we have a lot of homework. At present, our interaction with NATO takes place through the implementation of annual programs, which is a kind of implementation of the MAP. This is a lot of reforms, not only in the field of national security, but also in the field of anti-corruption, judicial reform and so on. NATO membership is not only about national security reforms, but also about many other requirements. The last annual national program was very positively assessed. We have signed a new program for the current year, which is very ambitious and developed on the basis of result-based management, with KPI. As for the parliamentary dimension, a lot is being done in the framework of the policy-making Parliamentary Assembly. The Russian Federation is trying to influence the parliamentary staff through rapporteurs, and we need to counteract it. One of the important bills under NATO control has become the law on defense procurement, which will reduce corruption. The bill on reforming the SBU is very important. Another bill is on state secrets. Therefore, once you receive the status of enhanced opportunity partner, which expands cooperation, including the exchange of information and intelligence, this exchange must be secure. And another important bill is on intelligence, which is quite critical in dealing with NATO. Cybersecurity is a separate dimension of engagement with NATO. A new draft law on cybersecurity is being developed, which should define what critical infrastructure is.

Mykhailo Gonchar. The level of threats in the Black Sea region has increased significantly. About a quarter of the Black Sea area was blocked by Russia last year, blocking part of the Ukraine-NATO exercise zone. This year, Russia acted even more brazenly, closing several zones at the same time, and the participants had to comply with these prohibitions, although the Spanish frigate passed through this forbidden zone. Thus, the Russian Federation "accustoms" to a new status, where the de jure is the exclusive maritime economic zone of Ukraine, and de facto they show "who is the master at sea." And this creates the danger of a serious fire collision. The joint efforts of Ukraine and NATO to prevent rising tensions in the Black Sea basin are of great importance.

It is also worth drawing attention to the draft law on the principles of state policy in the field of energy security of Ukraine. It was introduced in the Parliament in 2018. Now we are also talking about the adoption of a law on the principles of economic security, which will be a block on energy security. Therefore, parliamentarians have something to work on.

Solomiya Bobrovska stressed the importance of creating a coordination center for permanent coordination of the situation at sea.

Mariana Bezugla noted that the committee works on a project basis, on an inter-factional basis. Among the priorities are the finalization of work on the intelligence bill, as well as the adoption of a new law on the Security Service of Ukraine. In September, the bill is to pass committees and will be sent for first reading. The committee often passes the first two readings for maximum quality of bills.



Day 4. Aug 28

Theme: Protecting the environment - on the way to closer cooperation with the EU European Green Deal

Available in Ukrainian language:https://youtu.be/0SyxNFu_iuw

Participants:

  1. Yaroslav Sydorovych, ANTS Board Member

  2. Oleksandr Marikovsky, First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Environmental Policy and Nature Management

  3. Oleksiy Ryabchyn, Member of Parliament 2014-2019, Adviser to the Minister of Environmental Protection, Adviser to the Deputy Prime Minister on European Integration.

  4. Olena Kravchenko (EPL), Executive Director, Environment People Law

  5. Dmytro Karabchuk, Director, Forest Initiatives and Society NGO


Yaroslav Sydorovych presented an expert assessment of the 1st year of Parliament legislative work in the field of environmental policy. Full presentation in Ukrainian language is available at: https://www.slideshare.net/OstapYednak/1st-year-of-parliament-of-ukraine-9th-convocation-environmental-policy. Average progress of Association Agreement implementation in the environmental field is 47%. During the 1st year of Parliament’s work, the percentage of implementation is zero. During the last 12 months, Parliament adopted important legislation on ozone-depleting substances and on monitoring, reporting and verification of greenhouse gases. The Parliament also adopted fragmented initiatives on increase of fines for causing wildfires, illegal cutting, and on forest inventory.


Oleksandr Marikovsky noted that during last year the Parliament held Parliamentary hearings, which formed the environmental agenda of the country. He complained that environmental policy issues lack attention in prioritization of Parliamentary work. Recently, there is agreement reached that during each session at least 2 “environmental” bills get included into the agenda. Among Euro integration legislation, we expect that during this Autumn the Parliament will adopt important bills on environmental control (in first reading) and on waste management (second reading) - preliminary in October-November.


Oleksiy Ryabchyn stressed that European Green Deal is not only about the environment, it is about infrastructure, investments, economic development etc, it is climate neutrality of European continent by 2050. Mr. Ryabchyn reiterated Ukraine’s willingness for cooperation in implementation of European Green Deal. Ukraine is a part of the process of strategic documentation development, there are discussions on assistance packages for Ukraine.


Ms. Kravchenko mentioned the progress of previous convocation of Ukrainian Parliament, which adopted law on water management, on environmental impact and strategic assessment. However, all these laws suffer from poor implementation due to limited institutional capacity. This capacity must be increased by specific laws on environmental control, on environmental monitoring and improvement of legal liability and enforcement procedures, and this is also a part of Ukraine’s obligations towards Association Agreement.


Mr. Karabchuk stated that the law on mountain forestry cutting, adopted by the Parliament, caused negative consequences for nature and wildlife, and this must be improved further.


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