EU assistance to Ukraine: results so far are ”fragile”, say Auditors

EU assistance to Ukraine had limited impact and, despite the impetus for reform since then, the results achieved so far remain fragile, according to a new report from the European Court of Auditors.

Over most of the period audited, the unstable political, legislative and administrative context limited the effectiveness of EU assistance, according to the report presented in Brussels by an ECA auditor Szabolcs Fazakas, an UNIAN correspondent reported.

The auditors assessed whether European Commission and European External Action Service assistance was proving effective in supporting the reforms in Ukraine in the areas of public finance management and the fight against corruption, as well as the gas sector, between 2007 and 2015.

EU-Ukraine cooperation advanced in the wake of the 2014 Maidan events, say the auditors, but the challenges faced by Ukraine still heavily affect the reform process and the risks posed by the former and new oligarchs remain high.

See also: Ukrainian anti-corruption reform faces threats

The ECA calls an emergency solution the provision by the EU of a package of EUR 11.2 billion over seven years in response to the 2014 crisis. The EU allocated and disbursed large amounts of money rapidly and without first agreeing its strategy, according to the auditors.

”EU support for Ukraine remains a work in progress, despite good efforts by the Commission,” said Mr Fazakas. ”At the time of our audit, there was a strong political commitment to public administration reform. But management changes jeopardized the reforms and low salaries created openings for corruption. Further steps are needed to meet objectives.”

The auditors did find some tangible and sustainable results in public finance reform and an improved anti-corruption framework. However, public finance management occupied only a modest place in EU-Ukraine dialogue for most of the 2007-2013 period.

”Until 2014, the Ukrainian government`s limited commitment to the reform process was reflected in incomplete and delayed outcomes,” says the report. ”The fight against corruption was reinforced by the 2011 Visa Liberalization Action Plan and further accelerated by improved post-Maidan cooperation.”

But despite the new impetus for reform since 2014, the results achieved so far remain fragile, according to the auditors.

”The results of anti-corruption measures remain to be seen. Shortcomings in the setting of conditions for support or the assessment of their fulfillment affected the design of budget support and financial assistance,” the ECA says.

However, monitoring of the implementation of EU assistance was largely effective, and suspensions of budget support payments advanced public finance management priorities in 2011-2013. In the gas sector, there has been some success in improving governance and securing EU supplies via Ukraine.

”But the EU-Ukraine dialogue on gas was affected by Ukraine`s wavering commitment and by diverging views among EU stakeholders,” reads the report.

See also: Ukraine feels let down by EU with visa deal elusive

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