On Tuesday, December 13, the Verkhovna Rada adopted draft law No. 7662 on the reform of the Constitutional Court in the second reading. The adopted version does not take into account the recommendations of the Venice Commission, the requirements of the G7 and threatens the European integration of Ukraine. Therefore, we call on the President to veto draft law No. 7662 and return it for revision.
Changing the procedure for selecting judges of the Constitutional Court (the CCU) is the first of seven recommendations the European Commission made in its decision to grant Ukraine EU candidate status. The opening and success of negotiations on Ukraine's EU membership largely depend on the quality of implementation of this reform.
In its decision, the European Commission emphasised that the reform of the Constitutional Court should take place in line with the recommendations of the Venice Commission. The Commission provided several opinions regarding the reform of the CCU. In 2020, the members of the Commission emphasised the need to introduce a competitive selection of judges with the participation of international experts and public representatives in the integrity check.
On November 23, the Venice Commission published an urgent opinion on draft law No. 7662. In this opinion, members of the Venice Commission welcomed the provisions that provide for the creation of a separate body - the Advisory Group of Experts (the AGE), which will evaluate the integrity of candidates for the Constitutional Court, and half of the members of the AGE will be independent experts nominated by donors and the Commission itself.
At the same time, the members of the Venice Commission emphasised the importance of supplementing the text with provisions that would allow decisions to be made in a situation of equal distribution of votes. Thus, the Venice Commission recommended adding a seventh member to the AGE under its quota.
Before the vote, the group of Ambassadors of the G7 called on the MPs to adopt such a version of the draft law, which would provide for the significant participation of independent experts in the work of the DGE, in particular, the right to a casting vote.
However, the Parliamentary Legal Committee ignored these recommendations of the Venice Commission during the preparation of the draft law for the second reading.
Thus, the role of the AGE as an independent filter in the process of selecting future judges of the Constitutional Court was completely eliminated. Despite the fact that the voted version stipulates that the decisions of the AGE are binding for the appointing bodies, it is the appointment bodies who will have a decisive influence on the content of such decisions, and therefore the AGE turns from an effective filter into an unnecessary rudiment, which will only prolong the procedure for selecting judges.
In the end, the adopted version of draft law No. 7662 will not contribute to the selection of competent and independent judges with high moral qualities for the Constitutional Court.
Considering the importance of the reform of the Constitutional Court for the protection of democratic institutions and the constitutional order in the conditions of armed aggression of the Russian Federation, as well as for the European integration of our country, we call on the President to return draft law No. 7662 for reconsideration and taking in account the recommendations of the Venice Commission.
Anti-Corruption Action Centre
Anti-Corruption Research & Education Centre (ACREC)
The CHESNO Movement
The Anti-Corruption Headquarters
Institute of Legislative Ideas
Kharkiv Anti-Corruption Centre
Transparency International Ukraine
NGO “Public Control Platform”
"March for Kyiv" initiative
Initiative "Save the Flowers of Ukraine"
Center for public monitoring and research