Landmark Reforms in Ukraine Signal Closer Alignment with EU

Feb 15, 2013, 11:32 ET from Ukraine Monitor

KIEV, Ukraine, February 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

Improved data protection measures, a more business-friendly tax regime, and a powerful new law to combat discrimination are among a raft of reforms which, says the Ukrainian Government, show it is "matching words with actions" in its drive towards European integration.

2013 has already proven to be a busy year for the Government. This week, the cabinet adopted a bill aimed at bringing the protection of personal data into line with Council of Europe guidelines.

"The bill will establish a body that will monitor the observance of legislation in the field of personal data protection," a Government spokesman said.

The Government has also approved a draft law, which boosts Ukraine's existing measures against discrimination. This area too will now get an independent ombudsman to monitor progress and guarantee compliance.

And President Viktor Yanukovych has personally instructed Prime Minister Mykola Azarov to work with businesses to streamline tax collection in Ukraine.

"The instruction is aimed at improving the investment climate in Ukraine and establishing a constant constructive dialog between government institutions and business representatives," the spokesman said.

Common to all these reforms is a resolve to reform the Ukrainian Government and the economy in line with European standards. It's a timely reminder of the country's commitment to completing the Association Agreement (AA) with the EU, which it hopes to sign in November. The AA is the first step towards full EU membership.

"This is about matching words with action," a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

"In recent years we have overhauled our tax code, made Ukraine a better destination for investors and, as these latest measures show, we are making it a fairer place for all citizens.

"It doesn't help that we have a US$7 billion bill from Russia for gas we haven't used. That's a legacy of the poor business dealings of the previous Government, but something we just have to live with," the Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

On February 25, Yanukovych will attend the EU-Ukraine Summit in Brussels, which will also focus on Ukraine's advancement to the Association Agreement. He is expected to be questioned on the issue of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, but he also wants the EU to hear about Ukraine's on-going reform agenda.

This is set to include further law reform, the reform of the Police and the establishment of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area with the EU.

SOURCE Ukraine Monitor