A report published this morning by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) revealed that Ukraine is still perceived as the most corrupt nation in Europe, despite EU efforts to help the country’s government crackdown on crooked public officials and oligarchs.
The ECA found that EU financial assistance to Ukraine intended to speed up reform and root out institutionalised corruption has had a limited impact, and that policy making in the country is still far too heavily influenced by individuals and organisations with vested interests.
Cooperation between the EU and Ukraine has improved since the country’s 2014 uprising, the report said, but went on to warn that the challenges faced by the country continue to undermine efforts to implement reform, including the threat posed by former and new oligarchs.
“[T]he revenue side of the state budget is negatively affected by a significant shadow economy,” the report reads.
“Despite reform efforts, Ukraine is still perceived as the most corrupt country in Europe. Vested interests influence public policy-making. Oligarchic clans continue to exert a dominant influence on Ukraine’s economy, politics and media.”
ECA auditors made a number of recommendations to the European Commission and the External Action Service, advising that greater emphasis should be placed on public finance management in the dialogue process with Ukraine; that the design of conditions for and disbursement of financial assistance needs to be improved; that the monitoring of the implementation of assistance be strengthened; that greater emphasis be placed on the effective implementation and sustainability of reforms; and that steps be taken to make EU assistance to Ukraine more effective in the gas sector.
Szabolcs Fazakas, the member of the ECA responsible for the report, commented: “EU support for Ukraine remains a work in progress, despite good efforts by the Commission.
“At the time of our audit, there was a strong political commitment to public administration reform. But management changes jeopardised the reforms and low salaries created openings for corruption. Further steps are needed to meet objectives.”
Only last month, Transparency International published a report that rated Ukraine one of the most corrupt countries in Europe and Central Asia. According to the study, more than 80% of Ukraine citizens said their government was doing badly in its efforts to fight corruption, while over 50% said their politicians were highly corrupt. Additionally, 38% of Ukrainians said they had paid a bribe to an official to access public services, the highest percentage of all countries surveyed.
At the end of November, many Ukrainians reacted with anger after a 23-year-old law graduate was appointed to lead the country’s fight against corruption. Critics questioned whether Anna Kalynchuk had the necessary experience to confront crooked politicians and oligarchs, pointing out that she had only just left university.