Ukraine week in Brussels

EPA/ALEKSANDR KOSAREV

A fight in the Ukrainian parliament. An unidentified lawmaker pulls off Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk from the podium during a session in Kiev, Ukraine, 11 December 2015.

Ukraine week in Brussels


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Ukraine and Georgia are both waiting for the EU Commission to recommend the lifting of the visa obligation for their citizens, but only Georgia is expected to obtain that.

The Ukrainian government has until now failed to implement the key pieces of legislation promised in December. Even if the Commission recommends lifting visa requirements for short-term visits to the EU, the step must still be approved by member states and the European Parliament.

Meanwhile, MEPs will join Ukrainian counterparts for a three day “Ukraine week” high-level conference on good parliamentary practice and law-making 29 February – 2 March.

The 40-strong delegation from Ukraine’s Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada (VRU), will include its leadership.

Last July European Parliament President Martin Schulz and Chairman of the VRU, Volodymyr Groysman signed a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at strengthening the VRU’s constitutional role of law-making, oversight and representation.

The conference starting on Monday afternoon (29 February), will be co-chaired by EP Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Elmar Brok, and Chair of the EP delegation to the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee Andrej Plenković. Messrs Schulz, Groysman, Cox and Commissioner Johannes Hahn (European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations) will deliver the keynote speeches.

Tuesday (1 March) will be devoted to high-level debates, where six panels will address topics such as relations between the legislative and the executive, the representation role of a Parliament and the role of its secretariat.

The “Ukraine week” will end on Wednesday (2 March) with the signing of an “Administrative cooperation agreement” between the EP and VRU secretariats.

But the situation in Kiev is not so rosy, as shown by the fact that the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, a global election watchdog, has slammed changes parliament has made to Ukraine’s election legislation, saying the amendments were “inconsistent with international standards.”

According to the amendments to the law, which was signed by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Feb. 25, political parties will be allowed to exclude lawmaker candidates from their party lists immediately after elections. It si hard to see how, in these conditions, Ukraine can expect the EU Commission to recommend the lifting of the visa obligation.

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