Conference «One year of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement: summary and further steps»

Conference «One year of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement: summary and further steps»

FEAO experts attended an EU Integration Conference organized by the Government Office for European Integration (GOEI). The conference took place in Lviv on 18 and 19 December 2015, and was entitled “One year of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement: summary and further steps”.

Among the participants were MPs, government officials, NGO representatives, and representatives from the European Union. The FEAO legal experts Roksolana Bayko and Liudmyla Vasylieva also attended this event.

Both Ukrainian and international parliamentary staff participated in the welcoming remarks and in the sections devoted to the political dimension of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. The di-rector of the GOEI, Natalia Hnydyuk, noted that responsibility for the implementation of the As-sociation Agreement lies with us all; thus, we will not achieve its objectives by using only the pow-er of state authorities. The head of the EU Delegation to the Ukraine, Ian Tombinskyy, spoke at length about the “point of no return”, and the reforms which are needed to transform the Ukraine. He also noted the need to “put people in the center” and to protect people rather than institutions. In addition, he stressed that all citizens must have the opportunity to participate in the economy, and decentralization is crucial ensuring this. The Latvian Ambassador to the Ukraine, Juris Poykans, spoke about the reforms relating to a “visa-free regime”, and the difficulties posed by Russia.

The session on strategic vision for Ukrainian development and its path towards EU accession cov-ered the low level of trust in the institutions, the lack of effective communication, and the issue of states “without a vision”. It was agreed that change in the Ukraine cannot be imposed from the top, and therefore it is crucial begin at the local level working with citizens’ organisations.

In the next section, participants discussed the need for adequate translation of European legislation. Mistakes in official translation lead to misunderstandings and implementation of unnecessary legis-lation. Therefore, there is a need to simplify and improve the process of official translations.

The final session addressed many of the issues related to the Ukraine-EU free trade zone, a new stage in Ukraine-EU relations that will determine the development of the economy and customs agreements. Participants agreed that there is a need to improve the level of dialogue between the executive and civil society, and to provide citizens with an informed and realistic assessment of the EU market.

The following day, the discussion focused on the issues of decentralization and transnational coop-erations. One of the main problems is the lack of communication, coordination and harmonization of public policies. Due to the lack of public awareness, decentralization is viewed as yet another administrative reform, and there is little understanding of the benefits that it offers. The same ap-plies to a number of other changes.

Overall, the conference presented an opportunity to obtain and exchange valuable information from government sources, relating to many different areas, which is rarely published and not easily ac-cessible. The conference created an effective forum for discussing perspectives on legislative har-monization, technical problems and solution, and future steps for Ukraine’s political development.