The reply of the European Commission and the Ministry of Economy to the appeal of Working Group 3 of the Ukrainian National Platform and Working Group 5 of the Ukrainian side of the EU-Ukraine Civil Society Platform regarding the risks of state regulation review.
On 14 November 2022, non-governmental environmental organizations—members of Working Group 3 “Environment, Climate Change and Energy Security” of the Ukrainian National Platform of the Civil Society Forum of the Eastern Partnership and Working Group 5 “Energy, Transport, Environment and Climate Change” of the Ukrainian side of the EU-Ukraine Civil Society Platform—appealed to the leaders of the European Union to bring their attention to, and to discuss with the public, a bill proposed by the Ukrainian Government to accelerate the review of approvals, licences and permits regulating commercial activities.
In response to the appeal, we have received a reply from the European Commission, more specifically from Davor Percan, Head of Regional and Bilateral Environmental Cooperation, Directorate-General for Environment, which was prepared at the instruction of the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
In their reply, the European Commission points out that they have read Ukrainian Bill No. 8058. The reply underlines the importance of compliance of Ukrainian laws, including those enacted under the martial law, with the standards of public participation and accountability. The European Commission takes into account the public’s warnings and raised the issue of this Bill with the Ukrainian authorities. The European Commission stated clear to the Ukrainian Government that environmental laws must apply to the fullest extent possible even in wartime and that any suspension of, or adjustment to, those laws must be of temporary and limited nature.
Ukraine should avoid complete suspension of application of primary environmental legislation for an indefinite period. Further, measures should be taken to ensure the participation of the public in decision-making in accordance with international conventions, including the Aarhus Convention, whenever and to the fullest extent possible.
The European Commission appreciates that the Civil Society Forum raised the issue of compliance with environmental laws. This is an important component of Ukraine’s obligations under the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU, and it is especially important now as Ukraine has been awarded the status of a candidate state.
They have voiced confidence that the discussion of this issue with the involvement of the public will continue, including from a perspective of recovery of Ukraine. The European Commission will also continue to cooperate on this issue with the Ukrainian authorities.
We, however, would like to note that a reply to a similar appeal of Working Group 3 “Environment, Climate Change and Energy Security” of the Ukrainian National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum and Working Group 5 “Energy, Transport, Environment and Climate Change” of the Ukrainian side of the EU-Ukraine Civil Society Platform to the Ukrainian Government, as the author of Bill No. 8058, has been received from the Ministry of Economy. The letter signed by Nadiia Bihun, Deputy Minister of Economy, puts emphasis on the over- regulation of business activities by the State. In this regard, the Government intends to reduce administrative and financial burden on businesses and considers deregulation to be one of the key reforms for Ukraine’s Recovery Plan.
No explanation has been provided in support of the Government’s case. How can the Government cancel regulation provided by Ukrainian laws? How can authorization procedures, which have been implemented in accordance with the Association Agreement and cannot be replaced r by the one for two formula, be cancelled in the environmental sector?
In the said letter, the European Commission accents that after gaining the status of a candidate state to accede to the European Union, Ukraine would face much more challenging tasks to implement the EU laws even if compared to the Association Agreement. Given the circumstances, the Government’s initiative looks populist and can affect Ukraine’s European integration.
In addition, the letter of reply of the Ministry of Economy ridiculously reduces the issue of public participation in the passing of environmentally sensitive decisions to the advisory engagement of businesses at meetings of governmental commissions. Such distorted perception of the public by Ukrainian government officials further underlines the immediate need to create a platform for discussing the urgent issues of European integration with the involvement of the Government, the EU side and the public, more specifically, the pro-European civil society platforms (the Ukrainian National Platform of the Civil Society Forum of the Eastern Partnership and the Ukrainian side of the EU-Ukraine Civil Society Platform).
Commentary provided by Ruslan Havryliuk, National Coordinator of the UNP (at the time of submission of applications, coordinator of WG3 of the UNP)
We thank the International Charity Organization “Environment-People-Law” (members of WG3 UNP) for the analysis of the draft law and the preparation of draft appeals.
Reply from the European Commission, more specifically from Davor Percan, Head of Regional and Bilateral Environmental Cooperation, Directorate-General for Environment, 21.12.2022
Reply from the European Commission, 9.12.2022
The reply of the Ministry of Economy, 24.11.2022
Appeal of Working Group 3 of the Ukrainian National Platform and Working Group 5 of the Ukrainian side of the EU-Ukraine Civil Society Platform regarding the risks of state regulation review, 14.11.2022