The First Open Expert Debate on Parliamentary Reform

On December 18, 2017, RADA TV channel broadcast the First Open Expert Debate on Parliamentary Reform.

The debate was broadcast live on the RADA TV channel, which made it possible to engage a wide range of viewers of the RADA TV channel as well as the online audience to discuss the topic of parliamentary reform. Besides, the Facebook page of the Agency for Legislative Initiatives invited to take part in a survey on key issues of parliamentary reform through online voting.

The event was organized by the Agency for Legislative Initiatives within the framework of the USAID RADA Program: Responsible, Accountable, Democratic Assembly implemented by the East Europe Foundation.

Moderator: Oleksandr Zaslavskii, Deputy Chairman of the Board of the Agency for Legislative Initiatives.

Speakers:

  • MP Olena Sotnyk, member of the parliamentary faction of the political party Samopomich (Self Reliance), secretary of the VRU Committee on European Integration;
  • MP Yuriy Miroshnychenko, member of the parliamentary faction of the political party Opozytsiynyi Blok (Opposition Bloc), Chairman of a Subcommittee of the Committee on Legislative Support of Law Enforcement.

Experts:

  • Yuriy Hanuschak, MP of Ukraine of the 6th convocation;
  • Volodymyr Kryzhanivsky, MP of Ukraine of the 1st convocation, Senior Advisor to the USAID RADA Program.

The debate focused on discussing specific proposals outlined in the Roadmap on Internal Reform and Capacity-Building for the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine prepared by the European Parliament’s Needs Assessment Mission led by Pat Cox.

There are a number of challenges that hinder the effective work of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. From October 2015 through January 2016, the European Parliament’s Needs Assessment Mission led by Pat Cox was working in the Verkhovna Rada to identify and analyze these challenges. Based on this work, the Mission drafted the Report and the Roadmap on Internal Reform and Capacity-Building for the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. On March 17, 2016, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted a Resolution based on this document, which contains 52 recommendations on improving the work of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine as regards institutional capacity, improving the quality of the legislative process, ensuring compliance of legislation with EU regulations, etc. Since then, a number of legislative initiatives have been registered to implement the relevant recommendations, which, however, have not been adopted, not even as a basis. A year ago, the Working Group on Parliamentary Reform was established under the leadership of the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine; its task is to ensure coordination of the positions of parliamentary factions on specific decisions in the process of implementation of the 52 recommendations. Besides, there is an additional platform for finding a political compromise – i.e. the Monnet Dialogue Platform.

The first set of issues discussed by MPs and experts concerned the organization of the process of discussing and aligning political decisions on parliamentary reform and search for a political compromise. Another important aspect concerned the issue of how effective this process is.

Online voting results

The second set of issues focused on the bills approved within the framework of the working group and the Monnet Dialogue Platform. These are the Draft Law “On Amendments to the Laws of Ukraine “On Committees of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine” and “On Central Executive Bodies” regarding the optimization of the work of the committees of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and relation between their areas of competence and the ministries’ fields of activity.

This bill was drafted in pursuance of recommendation 17 of the Roadmap stipulating the need to strengthen the monitoring role of committees due to improved communication with specialized committees. Yet, why has it not been approved? Do the provisions set in the bill comply with the recommendations? To what extent can this bill solve the problem described in the Roadmap?

Online voting results

The third set of issues focused on the problem of the “legislative tsunami” or, to use parliamentarians’ term, “legislative spam”, which the European Parliament’s Assessment Mission recognized to be a major problem of the Parliament’s work. This term is used to describe the huge number of legislative initiatives registered by MPs that become a burden for the expert departments of the Secretariat, for the parliamentary committees and Parliament as a whole. Accordingly, recommendation 6 of the Roadmap stipulates that 20 top-priority legislative initiatives of MPs should be selected and considered based on the “float principle” – i.e., Parliament will go on to consider the next parliamentary initiative only after adoption of one of these 20 as a whole. During the numerous discussions, the participants inter alia voiced the following options: setting of the minimum number of MPs to execute the right of legislative initiative; introduction of the institution of legislative proposal as a way to enforce the MPs’ right of legislative initiative; introduction of the institution of support letters for legislative initiatives of individual MPs; granting the right of legislative initiative to the committees of the Verkhovna Rada.

Which of these options, according to MPs and experts, are the most acceptable for the Verkhovna Rada? How significant is the problem of “legislative tsunami”? Can it be solved in one of these ways?

Online voting results