On 21 July 2020, an online expert discussion on improving socially-oriented legislation in the context of the execution of the European Court of Human Rights judgements in the Yurii Nikolaevich Ivanov v. Ukraine and Burmych and others v. Ukraine group of cases was jointly organised by the Council of Europe Project “Further support for the execution by Ukraine of judgments in respect of Article 6 of the European Court on Human Rights” financed by the Human Rights Trust Fund and the Council of Europe project “Promoting social human rights as a key factor of sustainable democracy in Ukraine”.
The event was attended by representatives of the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Secretariat of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine, Ministry of Finance of Ukraine, Pension Fund of Ukraine, State Treasury Service of Ukraine, as well as the representatives of civil society and international organisations.
Ms Olena Lytvynenko, Deputy Head of the Council of Europe Office in Ukraine during welcoming remarks said: "This event is an important contribution to the implementation of the goals, objectives and priorities of the Council of Europe Action Plan for Ukraine 2018-2022. One of its priorities is to support the execution of ECtHR judgments, and in particular those covering the complex problem of non-enforcement of national court decisions, thus supporting the implementation of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the commitments Ukraine has made when joining the Council of Europe".
During the discussion, participants discussed proposed changes to the socially-oriented legislation in the context of the execution of the European Court of Human Rights judgements in Ivanov/Burmych group of cases.
"Of course, it is difficult to cover all aspects of social rights protection. Our main aim is to understand what Ukraine can do in terms of its own social protection. I hope this study will inspire the Ukrainian authorities to amend social legislation", stated Mr Lilian Apostol, International Expert of the Council of Europe project “Further support for the execution by Ukraine of judgments in respect of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights” when presenting the study “Best practices of the Council of Europe member states as to the introduction of effective mechanisms for improving socially-oriented legislation and the development of an efficient data collection system on social payments”.
Ms Alla Fedorova, national expert of the Council of Europe project "Promoting social human rights as a key factor of sustainable democracy in Ukraine" presented "Conclusions regarding problematic issues of the socially oriented legislation of Ukraine and recommendations on their elimination", which will be updated after the expert discussion:
"Only reliable and up-to-date information in the field of social protection of the Ukrainian population will help to determine the real needs of those who are in difficult life circumstances and need help. Such events like today’s one are designed to help to reform the social protection system", said Ms Fedorova.
The following recommendations were presented:
- All benefits and types of assistance funded from the state budget should be analysed and systematised, and the rate of each benefit and assistance should be identified. Immediately after the quarantine limitations are cancelled, additional indicators should be designed to assess the needs of the people, and the population census should be conducted in Ukraine.
- Sub-statutory norms and regulations which provide for multiple benefits to certain categories of people should be reviewed and cancelled in the framework of this analysis, and the opportunity for an increase in the rates of the main benefits should be considered.
- The social benefits system should be revised to provide for its exclusively targeted nature, at least, in times of financial crisis. With regard to benefits which the Government plans to convert into targeted ones, obligations should be assumed as to terms of duration and termination of such transition periods.
- Explicit alignment of budget allocations for each benefit provided by law with the number of beneficiaries and the established benefit payment rates should be provided within each annual state budget. Whenever adequate resources are not allocated in the draft budget, obligatory review and amendment of the relevant legislation in force should be provided to reduce benefit rates, cancel or suspend benefits in a non-discriminatory manner, and an appropriate clarification should be made for the public.
- A prohibition should be considered of establishing supplementary payments, compensations, allowances or any other social benefits to be paid from the state budgets, which are not provided by the legislation in force, as well as of increasing extrabudgetary funds reprogrammed into a state budget for a current year by decrees of the President and resolutions of the Cabinet of Ministers.
- The right of the Cabinet of Ministers, enshrined in many social laws due to amendments made since 2011, to establish at its discretion the rates for supplementary payments and benefits for certain categories of people exclusively within resources provided by the state budget and the Pension Fund should be revised to secure that such discretion is applied only to such categories of vulnerable individuals who are already provided with the minimum living wage.
- A new methodology should be developed with the broad participation of experts and civil society to calculate the subsistence levels, which would enable people to satisfy their basic needs and provide for their decent living standards, with due consideration to the Recommendations of the Parliamentary Hearing “Problems of calculation of the subsistence level in Ukraine” of 19 May 2020. The subsistence level should be re-calculated on the basis of a new methodology and the financial ability of the state to guarantee it should be analysed.
- The need for limiting the maximum level of salaries of civil servants, judges, top managers of state enterprises and all categories of employees receiving salaries from the state budget should be considered, with the adjustment of the maximum level of salaries to a certain number of minimum living wages.
Mr Pavlo Pushkar, Head of Division, Department for Execution of ECtHR Judgments of the Council of Europe, joined the event and underlined that the discussed issues belong to Ukraine’s commitments to the Council of Europe after ratification of the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Social Charter. "The ECHR regulates social rights issues to a very limited extent in particular, within the provisions of Art. 1 of Protocol No. 1. Such a limited approach, when this right is foreseen by the national legislation but does not have a mechanism for its implementation, is usually recognised by the ECtHR as not guaranteed by Art. 1 of Protocol 1", he emphasised.
As a result of the discussion, the participants formulated recommendations on measures to be adopted for eliminating the indefinite issues by amending national legislation and improving judicial and administrative practices.
Video of the event is available here.
This event was organised jointly by the Council of Europe project "Further support for the execution by Ukraine of judgements in respect of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights" funded by the Human Rights Trust Fund and the Council of Europe project "Promoting social human rights as a key factor of sustainable democracy in Ukraine".