The ECA report, released on Wednesday, assessed whether European Commission and European External Action Service assistance between 2007 and 2015 was proving effective in supporting reforms in Ukraine. It says that EU help “had limited impact and, despite the impetus for reform since then, the results achieved so far remain fragile.”
According to the document, Brussels allocated significant sums of money to Kiev without agreeing on the strategy first. From 2007 to 2015, EU financial assistance comprised 1.6 billion euro in grants, half of this in the form of budget support, and 3.4 billion euro in macro-financial loans.
“The EU responded promptly to the 2014 crisis with a package of 11.2 billion euro over seven years. But this was an emergency solution,” the report reads. “The EU allocated and disbursed large amounts of money rapidly and without first agreeing its strategy.”
According to ECA member Szabolcs Fazakas, “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,” he said. “But management changes jeopardized the reforms and low salaries created openings for corruption. Further steps are needed to meet objectives.”
The auditors recommend that the Commission and the External Action Service place greater emphasis on public finance management, improve the design of conditions for and disbursements of financial assistance, strengthen monitoring of the implementation of assistance and place greater emphasis on the effective implementation and sustainability of reforms.
The report says that despite efforts for broad reforms in the country and EU financial assistance, Ukraine is still viewed as Europe’s most corrupted country.
“Despite reform efforts, Ukraine is still perceived as the most corrupt country in Europe,” the report reads. “Vested interests influence public policy-making. Oligarchic clans continue to exert a dominant influence on Ukraine’s economy, politics and media.”
The fight against corruption was reinforced by the 2011 Visa Liberalisation Action Plan and further accelerated by improved cooperation with Brussels, auditors said.
“But despite the new impetus for reform since 2014, the results achieved so far remain fragile,” the report continues. “The results of anti-corruption measures remain to be seen.”