Fighting corruption to unleash Ukraine’s economic potential

Since the Maidan protests of 2013-14, Ukraine has introduced more reforms to its economic and political systems than in the previous 20 years, and it has managed to stabilise the macroeconomic situation despite a difficult security environment in the east. A Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU is creating new opportunities, and trade with EU member states is on the rise. Nevertheless, Ukraine continues to face major challenges in establishing a well-functioning and prosperous state, according to speakers at a high-level conference co-organised with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark and held at CEPS on February 6th. Opening the conference, Anders Samuelsen, Denmark’s Foreign Minister, said that Ukraine’s best response to Russian aggression in its eastern regions was to accelerate the reforms.

Johannes Hahn, the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy, said that protecting the unprecedented reforms of the past few years now required priority action in three areas: the fight against corruption, which should not be handed over to special courts; respect for property rights; and privatisation of the vast majority of state-owned enterprises.

Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, outlined her government’s reform measures and rejected the notion that many of them had been enacted but not implemented. She said that many corruption prosecutions were underway and that an electronic system for the declaration of assets had become operational. Other discussants suggested that transparency and closing the space for corruption were more effective than punishment.