The weak legislation on protection of the environment was also high on the agenda
The 4th meeting of the EU-Ukraine Civil Society Platform (CSP) in Brussels held a debate to assess the progress in the implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. The discussions focused on environmental protection, media freedom and the first year of the EU-Ukraine Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement.
Opening the meeting, co-chair Alfredas Jonuška, member of the EESC welcomed the reforms carried out by Ukraine to implement the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement (AA), and said he hopes that
these demanding reforms continue to be as determined and consistent.
The co-chair from the Ukrainian side, Zoriana Mishchuk, expert of the Ukrainian Environmental NGO "MAMA-86", began a debate which welcomed the Council’s adoption of the Commission's proposal for visa-free travel regime for the citizens of Ukraine for up to 90 days.
The CSP meeting assessed the state of play in the implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. On the DCFTA, the participants stated that the EU and Ukraine should closely monitor its implementation and assess the impact on trade and investments, on labour, environmental and human rights issues.
The Platform declared its satisfaction with the significant improvements in the media environment in Ukraine since 2014 including transparency and strengthening the legislative environment for journalists and media outlets. However, the Platform regretted that impunity for crimes committed against journalists in Ukraine persists; including undue political interference on content and violence, harassment, and other abuse of journalists. It recommended that journalist organisations and overseeing bodies increase the ethical standards for media, and invest into the competences of both journalists and managers of media outlets – competence exchange and on-the-job training programmes in the media outlets and institutions of the EU Member States. Serious challenges remain, such as: fragmentation of reforms, lack of strategic vision in reforming mass media and public broadcasting, lack of unified position of responsible authorities, and the absence of effective control over public authorities on information disclosure. Journalistic investigations lead not to punishment for misuses, but, to aggressions against journalists.
The CSP noted that environmental issues are of low priority on the agenda of the Ukrainian government and parliament, resulting in limited progress. The adoption of laws on environmental governance was vetoed by the President and reforms have been undermined by vested interests, weak governance, political instability and lack of leverage on the part of the EU. It therefore called upon the government to speed up the update of its National Strategy on environmental policy until 2020 and to adopt its National Action Plan. The joint declaration expressed concern regarding the absence in Ukraine of legal acts to ensure the implementation of crucial environmental policy tools, such as Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment.
The Platform adopted its joint declaration which will be forwarded to the EU-Ukraine Association Council, the Association Committee, the Parliamentary Association Committee and other relevant bodies both in Ukraine as well as in the EU.
The EU-Ukraine Civil Society Platform, established in April 2015, is one of the joint bodies established under the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. It allows civil society organisations from both sides to monitor the implementation process and submit their recommendations to the relevant authorities. Its previous meeting on 8-9 November 2016 in Kyiv addressed labour market regulation and antidiscrimination legislation issues.
The Platform has 15 members on both sides. On the EU side, it comprises 9 members of the the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in Brussels and 6 permanent observers from European civil society networks (Eurochambres, BusinessEurope, ETUC, Copa-Cogeca, Cooperatives Europe, EaP Civil Society Forum).