The European Commission has noted positive developments in the field of legal reform in Ukraine, but has pointed to the need for further steps.
The European Commission listed these steps in its European Neighborhood Policy Country Progress Report 2013 on Ukraine released in Brussels on Thursday. "In 2013, Ukraine partly addressed some of the recommendations of the last progress report, in particular those relating to electoral law and practice, and the judiciary. On the basis of this year's report, and with a view to the sustained implementation of the Association Agenda in 2014, Ukraine is invited to investigate independently the violent acts on both sides which occurred during civil protests, preferably with the support of the International Advisory Panel proposed by the CoE," the Commission said in report. The European Commission also urged Ukraine to adopt the law on reform of the Prosecutor General's Office, in line with the recommendations of the Venice Commission. In the framework of the implementation of the Criminal Procedure Code, Ukraine should adopt a law establishing a State Bureau of Investigations, the report reads. The European Commission believes that Ukraine should ensure that the constitutional reform process is carried out in an inclusive and transparent way and completed by September 2014, in close cooperation with the European Commission for Democracy through Law of the Council of Europe (Venice Commission). "[Ukraine's authorities should] ensure that the revised constitution strengthens the independence of judges, and adopt laws setting out the role of the High Council of Justice, the judicial system, and the status of judges," the report reads. The European Commission also recommends working out a plan for police reform "to pave the way for comprehensive reform of the police, including the establishment of a police complaint mechanism for allegations of ill-treatment and torture by law enforcement officers, as well as an independent and effective investigative mechanism for such crimes." The Commission also urged Ukraine to step up the fight against conflicts of interest, corruption and fraud, targeting all areas of public life, including in particular in the judicial system and in the business world. "[Ukraine's authorities should] reverse the backsliding on public procurement and budget transparency and begin implementing a public finance management strategy," the report reads. The European Commission also urged Kyiv to "make greater efforts to meet the remaining benchmarks set out in the action plan on visa liberalization; to comply with its obligations under international refugee and human rights law." The Commission also believes Ukraine needs to improve its business climate. The country also needs "to resolve the remaining trade cases (car recycling fees, local content of renewable energy equipment) which are not in compliance with Ukraine's WTO commitments; comply with its obligations under the Energy Community Treaty, in particular in areas such as independence of the energy regulator, unbundling, transparency, and market opening.