On February 18, the Government Office for Coordination of European and Euro-Atlantic Integration publicly presented a report on the implementation of the Association Agreement in 2018. A cumulative government progress assessment for the period from 2014 to 2018 was also presented for the first time.

We know the figures very well: in 2018, 52% of the planned work was performed, and the cumulative Agreement performance percentage for the past four years was 42%.

NGO Ukrainian Center for European Policy also publishes its monitoring report on the progress of Ukraine’s fulfillment of the Association Agreement obligations in terms of approximation of legislation in the trade and sectoral parts of the Agreement on an annual basis (chapters IV, V and VI).

Our assessment differs from the governmental assessment.

Progress made over the 2018 commitments was 21%, while 24% of the Agreement was completed within four years.

However, this is not surprising, since our methodology is quite tough and involves taking into account only the real result achieved, namely: adoption of a complete package of amendments to the national legislation, which will allow implementing EU legislation in practice in Ukraine without any obstacles.

Accordingly, we do not take into account the many steps taken at intermediate stages despite the fact they are undoubtedly also important for the commitment fulfillment under the Association Agreement.

There has been a discussion between the experts in the field of European integration for the second year in a row: is it reasonable to measure the implementation of the international agreement in figures?

Personally, I believe that figures are a simple and understandable tool for communicating results to ordinary citizens, since it is difficult to convey information to the general public on what is going on in such complex sectors as public healthcare, transport, customs, technical regulation, etc., which are combined in the framework of one agreement, in any other way.

And it’s very good that the Government Office has developed its own assessment system which at least solves the task of setting goals and assessing the results achieved within the government.

Currently, I cannot make a detailed comparison of the figures, because this work has no sense without the methodology of the Government Office It is still lacking in the Government Office report, which is rather strange, given that quantitative progress estimates have been applied for the second year in a row.

Assessing the situation with the implementation of the Association Agreement based on our methodology, built on the commitments and deadlines for their implementation, specified in the annexes to the Association Agreement, in 2018, leaders in the field of legislation approximation within the framework of the Association Agreement were two areas only: technical regulation (80%) and environment (17%).

All other areas, such as transport, social policy, business establishment and company activities, got zero percent in our report.

Instead, according to the 2018 Government report, the leaders are as follows: entrepreneurship (80%), agriculture (86%), technical barriers to trade (70%), social policy and labor relations (70%), financial sector (67%).

This significant difference in numbers is obviously associated with the application of different approaches to assessing progress, which can be illustrated by the example of social policy (see below). Report by NGO Ukrainian Center for European Policy shows 0% progress while the Government Office reports 70% progress.

In accordance with the terms defined in the Association Agreement, in 2018 Ukraine had to bring its legislation closer to five directives in the social sphere:

– Directive No. 2000/43/EC implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin;

– Directive No. 2000/78/EC establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation;

– Directive 98/59/EC on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to collective redundancies;

– Directive 1999/70/EC concerning the framework agreement on fixed-term work concluded by ETUC (European Trade Union Confederation), UNICE (Union of Industrial and Employers’ Confederations of Europe) and CEEP (European Centre of Employers and Enterprises providing Public Services);

– Directive No. 91/533/EC on an employer’s obligation to inform employees of the conditions applicable to the contract or employment relationship.

Our conclusions: Ukrainian legislation has not come close to the provisions of any of these five directives in a year!

And here’s how this progress is assessed in the Government Office report:

What does it mean? In terms of progress in legislation approximation, our assessments are almost identical. However, it is completely unclear which principle was applied to select directives for analysis in 2018.

If several 2017 directives are taken, then why are not others accounted for? And in the period 2014-2017, there should be 12 directives instead of three, as specified in the report.

Why do they review directives which are due in 2019-2020 in 2018? Why don’t they take into consideration a full commitment package for these periods?

Without answers to these questions it is impossible to make a qualitative comparison. A global problem in the field of social policy which catches the eye of an expert is that most directives relate to labor legislation, but we still do not have the approved Labor Code. What 70% can they be talking about?

I do not see any sense in analyzing other areas, because I assume that the situation will be very similar – the directives are analyzed on a selective basis. However, it is unknown which criteria are used to select them.

Perhaps, if the methodology had been made public, some of my questions would be answered.

Lack of methodology undermines the credibility of any presented quantitative assessments.

Finally, I want to draw your attention to the fact that the measures in the Government’s Association Agreement Implementation Plan in many cases end at the points “ensure support in the Verkhovna Rada”.

If the assessment of the Association Agreement implementation is performed on the basis of this plan, then the report does not reflect the implementation of the Association Agreement as a whole, but rather the fulfillment of tasks facing the Government. And these are different things.

Implementation of the Association Agreement means ensuring that the adapted regulation works in practice, and what is happening in government corridors is a purely governmental matter that requires internal monitoring and control.

But this is not enough if we are talking about the implementation of the Association Agreement as a whole, which involves the engagement of many other actors and other stages.

Liubov Akulenko for the Yevropeiska Pravda (European Truth)