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A Decade Towards Open Governance: The Latest OGP Results from the Eastern Partnership Countries

Una década hacia la gobernanza abierta: Resultados recientes desde los países de la Asociación Europea Oriental

Matthew Tramonti|

Чтобы прочитать этот блог на русском языке, нажмите здесь.

This piece is part of a series of  blogs produced by the Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) during Open Gov Week. Find other blogs in the series here.

The IRM Transitional Results Reports for OGP members in the region – ArmeniaGeorgia, the Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine – are now available for public comment.

Armenia · Georgia · Republic of Moldova · Ukraine
IRM Regional Snapshot: Eastern Partnership The Independent Reporting Mechanism shares an overview of OGP progress in Eastern Partnership countries and offers recommendations for stronger commitment implementation and greater collaboration with civil society throughout the action…

The four OGP members in the EU for Integrity Programme for the Eastern Partnership – Armenia, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine – joined OGP in 2011. Though different in many ways, these countries shared a strong incentive to use their participation in OGP to address Soviet legacies of opaque and highly centralized governance. Ten years later, they have collectively implemented 298 OGP commitments across 16 national action plans. Past commitments around open contracting and public procurement, such as Ukraine’s ProZorro and the Republic of Moldova’s MTender platforms, have yielded positive results, while Georgia and Armenia have provided access to detailed state budget data. Georgia has also taken a leadership role in OGP by hosting the 2018 Global Summit and being re-elected to the OGP Steering Committee in 2019.

The four Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries each recently concluded implementing their fourth action plans, which covered a wide range of policy areas, including improving government transparency  and increasing civic participation opportunities. Recent Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) reports found that commitments around access to information generally saw the strongest results. Ukraine, for example, published detailed budget plans at all levels of government and created the ProZorro.Sale platform, which greatly increased the transparency of the sale of public property and assets and reduced corruption risks because the process is now more open and competitive. Before Armenia developed a beneficial ownership register, there was no publicly available and comprehensive information on the beneficial ownership of companies in the country. 

The IRM also noted improvements in public service delivery and citizen participation. Ukraine launched a new digital services platform, which is already widely used by citizens for services like COVID-19 vaccine registration and small business support. Armenia developed a platform that enables online enrollment in schools and a pilot dashboard for citizens to leave feedback on state-provided services. Batumi in Georgia institutionalized participatory budgeting, while Armenia created an online platform for citizens to submit petitions. 

The IRM reports find that the fulfillment of commitments was affected by political transitions,  lack of funding or insufficient government leadership. In Georgia, municipal commitments generally saw high implementation, largely due to the active engagement and assistance of foreign donors. However, governments cited technical difficulties for limited progress of several noteworthy commitments, including improvement of procurement data disclosure in Georgia, development of a water resource database in Armenia, and Ukraine’s long standing commitment to create a mechanism for verifying beneficial ownership data.  

OGP Global Summit 2019 in Tbilisi, Georgia

What’s next for the EaP in OGP?

As countries continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, they have re-focused on urgent health matters leading to slow decision-making on OGP processes. Ukraine delivered its fifth action plan earlier this year, while Armenia, Georgia, and Moldova are still co-creating. With 10 years of experience in OGP and 16 action plans under their belts, the EaP members have the opportunity to create more substantial and ambitious open government reforms. The recommendations from the 2018-2020 IRM Design Reports provide insights into possible directions they could take.

  • Ensure a transparent COVID-19 response and recovery: As the EaP countries respond to COVID-19, they can use their fifth action plans to ensure transparent vaccination processes to reduce corruption risks and increase public trust. For example, EaP countries could commit to opening up procurement processes for obtaining vaccines and publishing data on the roll-outs. The governments need to work with civil society in planning and distribution to address misinformation and “vaccine hesitancy”.
    • In earlier Design Reports, the IRM recommended that the Republic of Moldova develop e-procurement for medicines and that Armenia improve transparency in medicine and pricing of medical services and raise public awareness on state-provided medicine and its distribution. These recommendations could serve as foundations for future commitments on transparent procurement and distributions of vaccines. 
  • Open the justice sector: Justice sector reform remains important among EaP countries. In 2021, Freedom House reports that courts in Armenia, the Republic of Moldova, and Georgia continue to face undue political interference and corruption. The EaP countries could, therefore, commit to increasing the transparency of their justice sectors in their fifth action plans. In the Republic of Moldova, the IRM recommended improving the transparency of the selection, promotion, and dismissal of judges and ensuring that all court cases are assigned randomly. In Armenia, the IRM also recommended improving the transparency in the appointment of judges and assignments of cases and publishing information on sanctions against judges and the results of monitoring of judicial reforms.
  • (Continue to) commit to beneficial ownership transparency: Armenia and Ukraine are the only EaP countries that have made commitments on beneficial ownership transparency so far. In Ukraine, the commitment to establish a verification mechanism for information in its beneficial ownership register remains unfulfilled, despite its inclusion in three straight action plans. Following the development of its beneficial ownership register, which was first piloted in the mining sector, Armenia plans to expand mandatory disclosure requirements to cover a larger scope of companies and publish data in open format. To build from this success, Armenia could consider an IRM recommendation to mandate disclosure of media company ownership, verify beneficial ownership data, and set penalties for companies providing false information. Meanwhile, in Georgia, the IRM has recommended establishing a beneficial ownership register of foreign companies that hold assets in the country and participate in public procurement.

Comments (1)

Mauricio Cardenas Gonzalez Reply

Congratulations Matt on this very insightful piece. Good job by the IRM team of OGP.

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