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Will the new Vice Prime Minister Olha Stefanyshyna be able to speed up the process of European and Euro-Atlantic integration?

On June 4, 2020, the Verkhovna Rada adopted a draft decision No. 3583 on the dismissal of Vadym Prystaiko from the post of Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine. The corresponding decision was supported by 296 people's deputies of Ukraine. Thus, the parliamentarians supported the dismissal of Prystaiko from the post of Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine. This decision was quite logical, since during the short time of Mr. Vadym Prystaiko's tenure as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, or as Vice Prime Minister, apart from his contradictory statements, there was no significant progress neither in politics nor in the European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine.

In order to replace V. Prystaiko, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine at the plenary session supported the appointment of Olha Stefanyshyna as a Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine on the same day. This decision was supported by 255 deputies. In this post, Olha Stefanyshyna will also work on the implementation of the Annual national program under the auspices of the Ukraine-NATO Commission for 2020. "In the context of the global economic crisis, which will affect not only Ukraine, but the whole world, the issues of European and Euro-Atlantic integration become even more important and they become not a political process, but a condition for the survival of Ukraine. Today we have the largest market of the European Union, which is on our continent — this is the market that we should expand for ourselves and this geography should be enlarged," Olha Stefanyshyna said during her speech in Parliament.[1]

In addition, the newly appointed Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration, Olha Stefanyshyna outlined her priorities in the post. "I have three main priorities - formation of Ukraine's internal position on the format and scope of the political and economic Association Agreement with the European Union, and revision of the financing conditions for Ukraine not only as a state with which the EU cooperates, because we are talking about market integration. And the third is the establishment of interaction in the Government-Parliament-President format on the development, adoption, implementation and promotion of decisions in the direction of implementing the Ukraine-NATO Annual National Programme based on the national interests of Ukraine", Stefanyshyna said.

She noted that Ukraine should work to expand the European Union market for itself and should conduct negotiations with the EU and NATO not as a subject of foreign policy, but as a full-fledged player on the world stage. "The first priority concerns the protection of national producers and goods. This is what can be done now as part of the start of the revision of the Association Agreement in early 2021. We must also insist that the funding is commensurate with the reforms that Ukraine is implementing on the way to European integration," the Vice Prime Minister said. She also considers it necessary to hold negotiations on increasing the amount of non-credit financing for Ukraine, access to cross-border cooperation programs, and expanding bilateral cooperation with neighboring states on the development of infrastructure and projects that liberalize the transportation of goods.[2]

But will Olha Stefanyshyna be able to solve Ukraine's European integration problems? Yes, at least some of them. In the expert community, she gained full support; EU officials have already received positive feedback. In 2016-2019, Olha Stefanyshyna was the head of the Government Office for Coordination of European and Euro-Atlantic integration. She is well-versed in the implementation of the Association Agreement and knows this topic much better than her predecessors in both governments of Volodymyr Zelensky. However, the success of the government curator of European integration will mostly depend on cooperation with the parliamentary majority. The Vice Prime Minister is not a representative of the "Servant of the People" team, and in the previous parliamentary elections, she went to the Rada in the lists of Volodymyr Groysman's party. In the fall of 2019, Stefanyshyna worked for some time in the team of Vice Prime Minister Kuleba, and collaborated with the current composition of the Parliament. And her presentation at the meeting of the "Servant of the People" faction went very well, according to sources. The deputies had no doubts about her professionalism and pragmatism at the same time.

Stefanyshyna is a civil servant with experience, she has worked in the Ministry of Justice since 2007. However, in 2016, she joined the government together with Vice Prime Minister, Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, who is a Deputy from «European Solidarity» and heads the Parliamentary Committee for European Integration. And although Stefanyshyna is not a member of the Klympush-Tsintsadze team now, the trust in each other's professionalism has certainly been preserved between them. Finally, it is worth emphasizing that even the appointment of a recognized specialist to the post of Vice Prime Minister is not sufficient to accelerate the European integration of Ukraine. This will be possible only after restarting the entire vertical of the government's European integration – holding a competition for the head of the government office, filling vacancies for relevant Deputy Ministers, and most importantly-reviewing the system of their coordination with the relevant Vice Prime Minister. It is gratifying that Olha Stefanyshyna is well aware of all these problems.[3]

Thus, in early June, Olha Stefanyshyna became responsible for Ukraine's integration into NATO and the EU. Now she has already several ideas that can show progress in our relations with the European Union. And given the fact that Ukraine recently became part of NATO's Enhanced Capabilities Program, this opens up additional opportunities for the newly elected Vice Prime Minister to prove herself in this direction. So for now it is worth providing only a positive forecast for the future activities of Stefanyshyna, as she will consistently continue the European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine and promote initiatives that will bring us closer to membership in these organizations.


[1]Віце-прем'єр-міністром з питань європейської та євроатлантичної інтеграції стала Ольга Стефанішина:

[3]Відповідальна за інтеграцію: хто керуватиме європейськими реформами в оновленому уряді: