Better Regulation: Harmonization of Ukrainian Legislation with EU Norms

February 4, 2019
Better Regulation: Harmonization of Ukrainian Legislation with EU Norms

On January 31st for the third time, the Union of Ukrainian Entrepreneurs gathered together business and government representatives to promote dialogue. This time, the discussion focused on key issues arising during the process of harmonization of Ukrainian legislation with European norms. Among the participants were Boris Belyansky, MTI, Yevgeniya Piddubna, Carlsberg, Alexander Avazashvili, JTI, Inna Khomych, Nova Poshta, Olga Trofimtseva, Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food, Victor Dovgan, Ministry of Infrastructure, Sergiy Petukhov, Ministry of Justice, Volodymyr Lapa, State Service of Ukraine for Food Safety and Consumer Protection, Leonid Vitkin, Ministry of Economic Development and Trade.

Although all sectors of the economy face common issues in the context of harmonization, the participants of each sector shared a detailed vision of the process.

MTI Company sees the problem in issuance and interpretation of Ukrainian conformity mark. Importers are obliged to put this sign not only on the box but on the product itself and additional accessories. In fact, it means a duplication of the CE mark. However, the problem of putting the conformity mark on the product is not the main. Business bears financial costs for placement of the mark. But the supervisory authorities interpret standards of putting Ukrainian conformity mark in their own way, which forces business to pay fines. Hence, Boris Belyansky, the general director of MTI, announced the request to allow business to put a Ukrainian conformity mark only on the product packaging.

Leonid Vitkin, Director of the Department of Technical Regulation, Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine, and Volodymyr Lapa, the Head of the State Service of Ukraine for Food Safety and Consumer Protection, engaged in a more deep discussion over the issue of Ukrainian conformity mark. Unfortunately, no ways of solving the problem on the technical regulation level were found. This problem resides in a broader context — it is a question of mutual recognition of the conformity assessment by the two parties. Ukrainian legislation does not comply with European regulations. However, is it reasonable for Ukraine to negotiate recognition of the European conformity assessment system without progress in recognizing the Ukrainian system? The question of putting a conformity mark has much deeper roots and requires work to be done. However, the UUE, in particular, the Committee for Retail Development, plans to keep this problem on the radar.

Alexander Avazashvili, Director for Regulatory Issues and Taxation of Eastern Europe, JTI, made a report on legislative spam and examples of low-quality regulatory proposals. In the last two months of 2018, nearly 20 draft laws regulating the tobacco industry were registered in the Parliament. At the same time, the authors of the drafts often forget that Ukraine needs adaptation rather than copying European legislation. Draft law #2820 is a good example. It has been lobbied as the draft law supposedly harmonizing Ukrainian legislation with European norms, but it doesn’t.

We are not against regulation per se. We understand that our products pose health risks. Quality regulation of the tobacco industry is needed. We must adhere to the principles of quality regulation adopted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). They are the most effective”, said Alexander Avazashvili.

It's very important for us to maintain a healthy balance. Approximation of Ukrainian legislation is often perceived by third parties simply as a translation of European norms into Ukrainian realities. It does not work, therefore, it is necessary both for business and government officials to more firmly defend their position”, added Olga Trofimtseva, Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food for European Integration in the context of incorrect adaptation of EU norms.

According to government officials, many problems lie not only in drafting bills but in the implementation of laws. In addition, there is a lack of coordination between the central government bodies. It is important to involve the bodies of various sectors concerned by the issue at the initial stage. After all, it's often a case for several industries rather than for a particular one.

Yevgeniya Piddubna, Carlsberg, shared the experience of successful cooperation with state authorities. The experience of the industry indicates that many European laws were adopted in Ukraine owing to the cooperation of business and government. The latest example is the Law "On Information for Consumers on Food Products". However, work on the subordinate legislation continues. One of the issues the industry is still worried about is the register of food contact substances and materials.

We cannot use European registers, as provided for in the free trade area, while Ukrainian registries are not developed. In turn, it halts the exchange of technologies, innovations", — Yevgeniya added.

Volodymyr Lapa revealed the simple secret of successful cooperation with food companies:

It's important to explain legislation to business not after it has been approved but during the discussion. Thus, as a result, we would have a better advocacy product and a consensus over the need to adopt a bill.”

Inna Khomych, Nova Poshta, and Viktor Dovhan, Deputy Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine for European Integration, had a discussion over the Law “Postal Service”, which has long been a problem for the logistiсs sector.

And even though the Ministry of Infrastructure and business managed to find consensus over some issues, there is still work to do – for instance, the incorrect translation of Directive 97/67/EC and its harmonization.

Unfortunately, the incorrect translation is something that is often encountered in Ukrainian legislation in the context of harmonization with EU legislation. However, since recently, the Government Office for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration has the opportunity to attract highly skilled experts.

“The problem of misinterpretation of European norms is familiar to us. It will not be eliminated unless the translations are officially verified. The working group should develop new legal terminology and further legislation should be based on it. The national legislation should be brought in line with the directive,” said Serhiy Petukhov, Deputy Minister of Justice for European Integration.

The meeting may be summed up in these key points. They will help businesses to more effectively influence the harmonization process:

  • Business must have a common vision of a problem. Business associations are the first filter that provides a framework for negotiations
  • Business must be active, track things that can be crucial, be a lobbyist in its industry
  • Business must be able to find compromises
  • Business must work with MPs
  • Business must search for a common position between the legislature, the executive branch of government and European experts

In addition, both sides expressed their interest in establishing a proactive dialogue in order to prevent problems rather than respond to them.

We thank the participants for the quality of dialogue and openness!

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