Ukraine in 2016: How to restart the reform process?

On the 25th of April 2016 in Brussels, the Democracy Reporting International (DRI) and the European Endowment for Democracy (EED) organised a debate “Ukraine in 2016: How to restart the reform process?” In the situation, when Ukraine’s government is struggling to deliver on reforms and public discontent is rising, the following questions were brought up: How to strengthen and protect the key building blocks of Ukraine’s democratic transformation and push ahead with the much-needed reforms? What are the implications of the current political turbulences on the process? And do the EU and other international partners need to adjust their support for Ukraine?

Oleh Rybachuk, Founder of Centre UA, stressed that extensive reforms in Ukraine are needed and civil society plays an important role to introduce these reforms. Even though civil society cannot adopt laws, it is able to exercise significant pressure on government. In order to be successful in this task, civil society needs a systemic approach, working in coalition toward very clearly defined targets.

Andrei Lobach, Head of the EBRD Reform Support Group and of the Project Management Office at the National Reforms Council of Ukraine, addressed such successful reforms as the reforms in public procurement and financial sector, police reform, decentralization etc. He also stressed that with regards to external actors’ action, conditionality works in Ukraine.

Mustafa Nayem, Member of the Parliament, argued that the government of Yatseniuk failed for two reasons: corruption and miscommunication. He expressed his hope that the new government of Groysman can perform better on both. Also he stressed that new faces in Ukrainian politics are needed.

Andriy Kozlov, senior legal analyst at the Democracy Reporting International (DRI) and observer at Ukraine’s Constitutional Commission, said that judicial and constitutional reforms in Ukraine are stuck and not moving neither forwards, nor backwards.

Summing up, all speakers agreed that the pressure from civil society is crucial for the reforms in Ukraine and has to be continued. Also, the expectations towards new government of Volodymyr Groysman were positive.