The public is deeply concerned about the initiative of legislative regulation of the accelerated review of permit documents and the secrecy of the legislative process, as well as about the fact that the provisions of the draft law No. 8058 contravene the requirements of national and international legislation. Implementation of the draft law will have a negative impact on the state of environmental safety and the state of health of Ukrainian citizens, as it provides for the deregulation of economic activities according to a simplified procedure, without the involvement of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine in the discussion of changes in permitting procedures. It removes the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine and the Ministry of Health of Ukraine from a narrow circle of central executive authorities, which must approve draft amendments to the legislation (regarding the cancellation of permit documents) and acts of the government approving an exclusive list of instruments of state regulation of economic activity.
In order to deregulate economic activity in Ukraine, developers have a clear goal to reduce the number of permits and prevent the introduction of new permits. A new permit document in a certain field can be introduced only in case of cancellation of two permit documents in this field. Therefore, in this situation, it is not at all about the need to implement European legislation, approximation of the EU legislation, implementation of the principle of sustainable development of the state, but only about reducing the burden of permits on business. This rule should not apply to instruments of state regulation implemented for the implementation of EU acts and/or international agreements. After all, the directives often introduce regulations that did not exist in Ukraine. In a democratic state, decision-making regarding the cancellation of permit documents should contain a rationale for how it will ensure safety, protect economic interests of the state, business, law and legitimate interests of citizens, preserve natural and cultural heritage, fulfill the requirements of international treaties, etc. However, the authors of the draft law propose completely different criteria for the deregulation of economic activity. Under such legislative changes, it will be impossible to observe the principles of sustainable development, which require achieving a balance between the economic development of the state, environmental protection and the social component. The authors of the draft law emphasize only the economic component of Ukraine’s development.
The exclusion of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine from the legislative process regarding deregulation according to a shortened procedure and the possibility of adopting legislative changes without its participation contradicts the principle of taking into account environmental protection issues when adopting normative legal acts and the principle of integrating environmental issues at all levels of decision-making. Article 8 of the Aarhus Convention provides for the obligation to ensure the effective participation of the public at the appropriate stage, as long as the options remain open, in the preparation by state bodies of normative provisions that have direct executive force and other generally accepted legally binding rules, which may significantly affect the environment.
For this purpose, the following measures are taken:
deadlines sufficient to ensure effective participation are determined;
draft rules are published or otherwise made known to the public;
Тhe opportunity to express its comments directly or through representative consultative bodies is given to the public. The results of public participation are taken into account as much as possible.
The draft law № 8058 does not provide for the publication of draft legislative acts and acts of the CMU related to the accelerated review of permit documents. It does not impose an obligation on the initiators of such draft laws for public discussion and taking into account the results of public participation.
Also, the draft law denies public participation in the process of making environmentally important decisions, allowing only business associations to participate in the meetings of the Commission on accelerated review of instruments of state regulation of economic activity, even granting them the right of an advisory vote. The draft law does not mention whether protocol decisions of this commission will be available to the general public, nor does it mention the public discussion of proposals for laws related to deregulation in various areas. It appears that with the simplified procedure advocated by the draft law, public discussion is excluded.
The draft Law No. 8058 creates the following legal conditions under which all existing permits and other tools for regulating business activity will become invalid, if they are not provided for in the Laws of Ukraine and in the exclusive list of tools for state regulation of economic activity approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. This carries serious risks for the sphere of state regulation of business activities, including those that may cause serious risks for the environment and health of the population of Ukraine. In addition, provisions of normative legal acts that contradict the potentially adopted law will cease to apply. Also, the draft law has not decided what will happen to the current Law “On the List of Permissive Documents in the Field of Economic Activity”. It is unclear whether it loses its validity or not, how it will correlate with the exclusive list of state instruments of regulation of economic activity adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers. There is a great risk that the new exclusive list of instruments of state regulation of economic activity will no longer contain the permits valid today, which are a big obstacle for that part of business entities that do not want to work transparently, consult with the public and conduct their activities with minimal damage to the environment.
Therefore, the adoption of the Draft Law No. 8058 will lead to a violation of the requirements of Article 8 of the Aarhus Convention regarding public participation, slow down the process of Ukraine’s integration into the EU, and worsen the state of the environment and the health of the population of Ukraine. Under such conditions, the state’s economy may lose a healthy workforce, and Ukraine may lose a healthy future generation and natural resources for sustainable economic development.
We call on deputies, the office of the President of Ukraine, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine, the Ministry of Health of Ukraine and other stakeholders to express their negative position regarding this draft law.
This statement is signed by:
ICO “Environment-People-Law” (EPL)
ICO “VEA “ZELENY SVIT”
NGO “Osokorky Wetland park”
NGO National Ecological Center of Ukraine (NECU)
NGO Severodonetsk City Environmental Association “Green World”
Olena Yavorska, head of the Vinnytsia Regional Environmental Association “Green World of Podillia”
NGO “Ecological Club “Krai”