To strengthen the work of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine for improving its efficiency, accountability and transparency and make positive impact on the implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement – this is the goal of the EU-UNDP Parliamentary Reform Project that was launched in February 2019 and will be completed by October 2021. The project helps Ukrainian Parliament improve the law-making process in accordance with modern practices – to introduce planning of law-making activities and end-to-end law-making process, improve efficiency of legal drafting and consideration of draft laws, apply legal monitoring and evaluate effectiveness of legislation, expand practice of public consultations, assess the legislative effectiveness and impact assessment of draft laws.
Experts from the Parliamentary Reform Office of the EU-UNDP Project assisted in the development of the Draft Law “On the Law-Making Activity” (#5707), which will regulate end-to-end legislative process in Ukraine. For this, the most relevant international experience was identified and the best practices of the European Commission and individual EU Member States with a similar context to Ukraine were introduced, as well as the conclusions and recommendations of the Venice Commission on the development of similar laws. The proposed changes have already received unprecented support from the MPs of the 9th convocation, as the draft law was initiated by 195 MPs.
Named the ”encyclopaedia of law-making,” the draft law 5707 introduces a number of relevant and unprecedented novelties for Ukraine:
· a unified terminology for all participants of law-making activity without exception,
· 10 principles of law-making activity that comply with respective principles in the EU,
· the framework for planning the law-making activities,
· end-to-end legislative process – it will make the process balanced, as the decision to develop or amend a legal act will be based on the results of legal monitoring, which in turn will be based on legal impact assessment,
· uniform rules on planning, draft/concept note development, adoption and conduct of legal monitoring for the VRU, central executive authorities and other public authorities, CMU, local self-government bodies,
· structuring the stages of legal drafting and requirements for their structure – it will increase the quality of legislation, clarity and predictability for citizens,
· hierarchical system of legal acts – it will remove confusion concerning the supreme legal force of one act over another,
· unification of the process of public consultations,
· guarantees of ensuring the right to access to information on law-making activity,
· clear definition of registration and recond of legal acts – the respective information will be displayed in the form of open data,
· assessing the effectiveness of application of legislation,
· legal draft impact assessment.
Adopting a law like this has been an endeavour in Ukraine since 1994, and the need to regulate law-making has become an issue since the declaration of independence. The trend to overload the staff of the VRU Secretariat with the so-called “legislative spam” – a large flow of low-quality bills – has been observed during the work of the Verkhovna Rada of all convocations. For example, in the Verkhovna Rada of the 9th convocation, the percentage of draft laws that have become laws is about 12%, and only 2% do not raise red flags during the legal examination. No one knows the exact number, but it is clear that today there are more than 1 million legal acts in Ukraine and this is a legal catastrophe for both law-makers and citizens for whom the legislation is unclear and unpredictable.
However, the country still lacks a unified legislative approach to law-making and a number of common problems, including the impossibility of planning the law-making activity, non-compliance with procedures, inconsistency and low quality of legal acts, significant confusion about the legal force of different legal acts, unpredictability of legal policy, poor effectiveness of civic control.
The draft Law “On the Law-Making Activity” is designed to put an end to legislative tsunami and solve the above-mentioned systemic problems in the field of law-making. You can find out more in the Explanatory Note and the comparative table of effective legislation with the proposed amendments.
For the development and implementation of the law on law-making activities, experts of the EU-UNDP Parliamentary Reform Project also helped develop provisions for the introduction of systematic planning of legislative activities and a plan of legal drafting, which is approved for the second consecutive year. Thanks to the amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Verkhovna Rada and updated parliamentary procedures, the Verkhovna Rada managed to ensure sustainable work on a democratic basis in the most critical days when Ukraine faced the coronavirus pandemic. In two years, the EU-UNDP Project has developed and published a number of analytical documents and recommendations to improve the work of Ukraine’s Parliament, including:
· Concept note on improving the law-making process in Ukraine
· Parliamentary oversight: practical recommendations to improve efficiency
· Technical approaches and recommendations for the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to assess effectiveness of the application of legislation
· Proposals to improve legal examination of draft laws
· Proposals on main approaches to planning and monitoring of legislative activity in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
Also, the EU-UNDP Parliamentary Reform Project implemented by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with the financial support of the European Union implements 2 other components with the view to provide comprehensive support to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine:
· #ProfessionalRada. Providing support for the professional modernization of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, focusing on the principles of its organization and management, as well as staff development in the context of general public administration reform and taking into account the Law of Ukraine “On Civil Service;”
· #TransparentRada. Enhancing transparency, accountability and communication between parliament and citizens, primarily to build public confidence in parliament, through the use of new communication technologies, civic education and citizen engagement.