The implementation of the parliamentary reform is a prerequisite for undertaking other reforms essential to the state. This is so because the legislative framework is a tool for introducing the necessary changes.
The parliamentary reform provides for the following:
- development and performance of measures aimed at enhancing legislative quality (from the stage prior to rule drafting to the final legislative stage);
- strengthening the Parliament’s oversight function, which is aimed not only at providing instrumental support to the balance of powers of the branches of government but also at supervising the quality of the approved decisions, in particular overseeing the enforcement of laws;
- enhancing the role of parliamentary civil service in the legislative process;
- wider involvement of stakeholders (interested parties) in the process of draft law creation and adoption;
- facilitating the Parliament’s openness;
- strengthening the Parliament’s representative function.
In February 2016, the European Commission proposed "The Roadmap on Internal Reform and Capacity-Building for the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine” (below, the Roadmap). This document contains recommendations on ways to reform the Ukrainian Parliament, aiming to improve legislative quality, to ensure transparency and openness of the VR of Ukraine and the MPs’ compliance with ethical rules and standards, and to raise the level of the Parliament’s administrative capacity.
Parliamentary reform implementation measures taken in April 2018
To strengthen cooperation between the Parliament and NGOs, the USAID RADA Program organized on May 15-16, 2018, together with the Secretariat of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the 10th Information Fair at which resources and opportunities for interaction with civil society organizations and international technical assistance projects were presented to MPs, their aides, the VRU Secretariat, and mass media. The event was attended by a total of more than 40 projects and organizations collaborating with the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
Creating an independent parliamentary civil service
At present, the Committee on Rules of Procedure and Support to Work of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine is drafting a law on creating an independent parliamentary service. The draft law will provide a financial and organizational framework for the functioning of the Secretariat of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
The USAID RADA Program has been writing a Green Paper on parliamentary service.
Public discussion of draft laws
In May, the portal for public discussion of draft laws, which had been developed by the USAID RADA Program on the Initiative of the Department for Computerized Systems of the Secretariat of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, invited civil society representatives to assess the Draft Law “On Amending Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine to Control Spam.”
This portal is a tool for enhancing the role of the public in the legislative process.
Amending the Rules of Procedure of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine
On May 16, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Committee on Rules of Procedure and Support to Work of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine held a meeting to consider the Draft Law of Ukraine “On Amending the Rules of Procedure of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (to improve the legislative process)” (registration No. 3401 of November 3, 2015) that had been submitted by MP S.V. Vlasenko.
The draft law provides for the following:
- decreasing the number of cases when matters can be considered according to the simplified procedure;
- establishing a new share of votes required to pass a decision to deviate from the standard voting procedure (ad hoc hearing): “the majority of the constitutional composition.” In the current Rules of Procedure, the required share is one third;
- adding a provision ruling out final adoption of a draft law based on the results of its first hearing, which is possible at present based on Part Two, Article 114 of the Rules of Procedure;
- prohibiting consideration of alternative draft laws before 15 days have passed after their submission;
- imposing a ban on voting more than two times on a matter during its second reading;
- allowing the MPs access to the findings and proposals of a special temporary investigative commission;
- expanding the MPs’ rights to access classified information.
The Committee on Rules of Procedure presented its opinion with a recommendation that the draft law be returned by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, based on the results of its first reading, to the holder of the right to legislative initiative (author) for finalization.
Improving the legislative process
Currently, the USAID RADA Program is working on a Green Paper on enhancing the quality of the legislative process.
One of the prerequisites for raising the quality of the Ukrainian legislation and transforming it into an efficient tool for implementing state policies is to take into account the interests of the stakeholders at different stages of the state policy cycle. The main mechanism to ensure this is to hold public consultations.
To find out the opinions of the key stakeholders on holding public consultations as an integral part of the legislative process, the USAID RADA Program, together with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Project Coordinator in Ukraine, conducted, on May 25, a round table “Public Consultations as Part of the Legislative Process.”
At the event, the following issues were discussed:
- introduction of public consultations as a mandatory part of lawmaking;
- legal regulation of public consultations:
as part of Regulations of relevant institutions?
as a separate Law?
as part of a Law “On Laws and Legislative Activity”?
- the specifics of (capacity for) holding public consultations by holders of the right to legislative initiative.
For the roundtable, the USAID RADA Program prepared an analytical note “Public Consultations in the Legislative Process,” aiming to initiate debates and discussions to articulate the positions of various stakeholders and develop recommendations.
Based on the results of the roundtable, the USAID RADA Program started working on an analytical document collecting all approaches and recommendations concerning public consultations that were voiced during the discussion. It is planned that the roundtable conclusions will subsequently be distributed among the Ukrainian MPs, Ministries, reform offices, international organizations, and parliamentary service employees.
The conclusions will become part of the Green Paper on improving the lawmaking and law adoption processes.
Raising awareness about the Parliament’s Rules of Procedure
To raise awareness about the Rules of Procedure and their practical application, the USAID RADA Program organized, on May 7-8, a training entitled “The Rules of Procedure of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine”[i]. It was attended by aides to MPs, employees of the Secretariat of the Verkhovna Rada, representatives of NGOs cooperating with the Verkhovna Rada, parliamentary journalists, as well as Cabinet of Ministers employees.
The training not merely provides the participants with additional knowledge and shapes their skills aiming at a deeper understanding and stricter use of the Rules of Procedure of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine; it is also a platform for communication of the legislative and executive branches with civil society representatives, which helps to strengthen the capacity of all the entities involved in the legislative process.
[i] The materials of the training are available on the USAID RADA Program website: “The Parliamentary Rules of Procedure: An Elementary Applied Training Course.”