The Council of Europe Action Plans for Ukraine, being implemented since 2005, are strategic programming documents which aim to support our country in fulfilling its obligations as a member State of the Council of Europe and to facilitate the implementation of the European Union Association Agreement, in particular by supporting efforts to bring legislation, institutions and practices further into line with the best European human rights standards in the fields of human rights, the rule of law and democracy.
Strategic areas of cooperation between Ukraine and the Council of Europe in the framework of the implementation of the Action Plan are as following:
- strengthening the protection of human rights and improving the enforcement of judgments, especially those dealing with priority issues identified by the supervisory authorities of the Council of Europe and decisions of the European Court of Human Rights;
- promotion of the rule of law and development of democratic institutions and procedures at the national, regional and local levels;
- strengthening democratic institutions at national, regional and local levels, promoting the culture of democracy, developing social cohesion, increasing tolerance and strengthening the participation of key social and public actors in decision making.
The previous Action Plans covered periods with such budgets: 2005-2008 (17,3 million EUR), 2008-2011 (25 million EUR), 2011-2014 (23,9 million EUR), 2015 -2017 (45 million EUR).
On 21 February 2018, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe approved the current Action Plan for Ukraine for 2018-2021 with a budget of €29,5 million EUR, 29,3 million EUR (99%) of which had already been funded as of 31 December 2019. The donors of the Action Plan were (in order of highest amount): EU, Sweden, Norway, Canada, Human Rights Trust (includes 7 countries: UK, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Finland, Switzerland), Switzerland, Denmark, Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Poland, Turkey, Estonia, Latvia and Romania.
The implementation of the Action Plans is subject to periodic joint monitoring performed by the Council of Europe and the Ukrainian authorities in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the approved projects and to include other agreed projects in the Action Plan. Notably, during the inter-agency meeting on the state of
implementation of the Action Plan held at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, held on 4 February 2019, representatives of legislative, executive and judicial authorities, as well as NGOs, positively evaluated the state of implementation of projects under the Action Plan, in particular on strengthening the implementation of human rights standards in Ukraine, protection of internally displaced persons (IDPs), reform of criminal justice, judicial reform, decentralization, media freedom and protection of journalists.
For its part, the Group of Rapporteurs on Democracy of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers at its meeting on 21 March 2019 noted the following positive developments in the implementation of the current Action Plan: decentralisation reform; strengthening the legislative and institutional frameworks for human rights protection, including the IDPs and Roma population; establishment of a constitutional complaint mechanism and strengthening the rule of law; functioning of a full-fledged public broadcasting. At the same time, the Group pointed out the urgency of making additional efforts to ensure the effective implementation of legislation; ensuring the full functioning of reformed anti-corruption and anti-money laundering institutions; strengthening minority protection; effective respect for language and social rights; completing the decentralisation reform at all levels; ensuring full independence and accountability of the prosecution, improving enforcement of judgments, particularly those of the European Court of Human Rights; combating violence against women.
On 6 February 2020, the Steering Committee of the Council of Europe Action Plan for Ukraine 2018-2021 met in Kyiv to discuss key achievements and proposals for further implementation of relevant projects in Ukraine. According to the results of the first phase of implementation of the current Action Plan, the following priority areas were identified:
- further implementation of European human rights standards in Ukraine, particularly by ensuring effective functioning of the Ombudsperson`s Office and strengthening the National Preventive Mechanism for the human rights protection during pre-trial investigations; prevention of torture and ill-treatment of detainees by law enforcement agencies;
- protection of IDPs rights, including the right to adequate housing and access to justice, as well as national minorities rights, in particular Roma; awareness-raising campaigns on countering stereotypes against national minorities, publication of manuals on best European practices on bilingual education;
- supporting criminal justice by completing the Prosecutor's Office reform and improving the mechanism of free legal aid; ensuring the independence and credibility of justice in Ukraine, the synergy of approaches and practices of disciplinary bodies within disciplinary proceedings against judges; functioning of a new network of courts of appeal, establishment of the Judicial Protection Service as a state body in the justice system; establishment of a Unified Court Information and Communication System; completion of the selection and appointment of judges of the High anti-corruption court and ensuring its functioning;
- increasing the implementation of anti-corruption projects;
- implementation of a comprehensive and coordinated policy on prevention of violence against women and domestic violence, including support for an appropriate national coordinating body; institutional development of institutions and capacity building of professionals providing assistance to victims of domestic violence and violence against women, including free legal aid;
- implementation of the European standards into the Ukrainian media environment, protection of the professional activity of journalists and promotion of media literacy among young people;
- protection of social rights, in particular in the context of implementation of Ukraine's obligations under the European Social Charter, as well as children's rights;
- supporting education on democratic culture.
On 1 July 2020, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe decided to extend the Council of Europe Action Plan for Ukraine until the end of 2022 to ensure the achievement of all the objectives defined in this document.
The revised budget for the extended Action Plan amounted to 38,2 million EUR, 81% of which has already been allocated as of 31 April 2021. The largest donors of the revised budget as of 31 April 2021 are the European Union (6 million EUR), Sweden (5,87 million EUR), Norway (5,84 million EUR), Canada (3,39 million EUR), Germany (2 million EUR), Human Rights Trust Fund (UK, Luxemburg, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Finland, Switzerland) (1,5 million EUR), Switzerland (1,33 million EUR), Denmark (1,13 million EUR).
Other donors, which have allocated about 0,5 million EUR and below are the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Poland, Turkey, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania as well as the Fund to end violence against children (EVAC).