While still at the stage of drafting, the federal law on peculiarities of repayment and extrajudicial settlement of debts of borrowers residing in the territory of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, called intense interest of lawyers. Its provisions are interpreted ambiguously even after January 10, 2016 – the date of entry into force.
On April 18 the State Enterprise “Information Resource Center” opened access to the data of the Unified State Register of Legal Entities, Individual Entrepreneurs and Public Organizations, which is now possible to download as a file from the Unified state web-portal of open data. It was done in accordance with several legislative acts adopted earlier in Ukraine.
Thus, a year ago – on April 9, 2015 – the Verkhovna Rada adopted the Law No. 319-VIII, which amended the legislation on access to public information. The amendments were aimed at “exercising the right of access to information of public interest that ensures transparency in the activities of public authorities and local governments”.
Then the government resolution No. 835 of October 21, 2015 specified the way of publication of such information and a list of databases under control of public authorities and local governments. Among them – unified registers, standards, lists, handbooks, reviews, etc. On the whole, more than 300 information systems were named.
Let us consider the reasons for opening access to such databases.
The first reason: European integration
By signing the Association Agreement with the European Union, Ukraine has committed itself to carry out the adaptation of the effective legislation of our country to the EU legislation (Article 114 of the Agreement). Such legal relations in the EU legislation are regulated by Directives 2003/98/EC of November 17, 2003 and 2013/37/EU of June 26, 2013 and are consistent with the Open Data Strategy for Europe (IP/11/1524) launched by the European Commission in 2011.
Pursuant to the above acts the EU Member States committed themselves to pursue an open information policy, encouraging the widespread availability and re-use of public sector information for both personal and commercial purposes, with minimal legal, technical or financial barriers or do without them.
The second reason: Fight against corruption
This reason is closely connected with the previous one, but in the legal framework of our country. On August 8, 2015, the Ukrainian lawmakers approved the Law “On the fundamentals of state anti-corruption policy in Ukraine (Anticorruption Strategy) in 2014-2017″, which envisages ensuring access to information as one of the most important preconditions for preventing corruption.
One of the anti-corruption measures is “the need to amend the legislation for free access to the data of the Unified State Register of Legal Entities and Individual Entrepreneurs via the Internet, in particular, the data on the ultimate beneficiaries (beneficiaries) of legal entities”.
The third reason: International initiative
On September 20, 2011, an international initiative “Open Government Partnership” was established at the UN General Assembly. The initiative is aimed at extending access to public information on activities of public authorities, involvement of civil society in the formation of public policy, introduction of high standards of professional integrity in public administration and use of new technologies for openness and accountability.
Ukraine announced its accession to the undertaking in April 2012, the appropriate decision was formalized by order of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine No. 220-p. For the implementation of the Open Government Program the Action Plan for the implementation of initiative in 2014-2015 was approved on November 26, 2014, which inter alia envisages a number of measures to ensure openness and transparency of public policy.
The positive effects of the respective innovation should be seen in conjunction with other public information access tools. Back in 2011 the European Commission estimated that use of information in the form of “open data” could bring the EU economy the additional 40 bln euros in revenue per year, as it will be a means of control over the public authorities and local governments, contribute to prevention of corruption, and enhance the efficiency of public agencies and the quality of their services. Sure, in our reality it is not necessary to count on such a stunning result, however, such decisions will help to improve the overall investment climate, development of the information services market and improvement of the level of public confidence in the activities of representatives of public authorities of Ukraine.
At the same time, publication of open data of the Unified State Register of Legal Entities, Individual Entrepreneurs and Public Organizations can not be called a revolutionary step in the field of access to information on business entities and public organizations. Since 2011, the appropriate figures were available for free viewing on the official web-site of the State Enterprise “Information Resource Center” – for it context search (by name of a legal entity, its USREOU or name of an individual entrepreneur, his ITN).
In future, access to the appropriate service was moved to the web-resource of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, where it is available now. Thus, unlike the information available for viewing online, the databases published on April 18, 2016 contain information in a highly abbreviated form. That is the innovation actually has no advantages, except for the ability to view the data without access to the Internet.