Aspen Institute Kyiv held an event on transformations in the state and public administration reform in the process of European integration

On June 23, Ukraine received candidate status for EU membership. The new opportunities for our country also require a lot of work on legislation harmonization, which requires a high level of organization of state administration and civil service.

To discuss how we should transform the civil service to be ready for the challenges of European integration, on July 15, the Aspen Institute Kyiv with the EU4Par held an online discussion on European integration and public administration: strategy and priorities.

Among the main theses of the discussion:

When will the negotiation process for EU membership begin? The negotiation process will help define clear membership criteria. At the same time, membership negotiations will start after Ukraine meets the application criteria and the geopolitical situation become stable.

Can the decision-making process and their coordination with international partners be quick? Due to significant digitization and open borders, the agreement and decision-making processes can be quite fast today. In addition, the candidate status opens opportunities for more interaction with the European Commission. Negotiations are also underway with some countries, which are ready to help in certain areas. In particular, in the part that concerns the reform of public administration.

Will the experience of other EU member states be useful for Ukraine? Ukraine’s acquisition of EU candidate status coincided with a surge in parliamentary diplomacy. Before deciding on the application, parliamentarians had the opportunity to learn about the experience of other EU member states in harmonizing their legislation. The experience of recent EU member states (Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria) and the Baltic states will be crucial for Ukraine (their legislation was also “Sovietized”).

How should the civil service change because of the prospect of EU membership? Despite the peculiarities of the civil service in each member state, the European Union requires them to observe the basic principles in this field: openness, efficiency, and accountability. Strengthening the civil service is extremely important. It needs competent specialists. There must be a personnel reserve, a development system, HRMIS, and a transparent search, hiring, and adaptation procedure. There are many ideas, but the problem area is precisely the implementation.

What else should be taken into account during the civil service reform?

  • The process of reforming the civil service must be connected not so much with European integration but with the interests and needs of Ukraine. In addition, it is necessary to take into account the difference between the civil service during the war and after, when the reconstruction of the country begins.
  • Functional analysis has been made. There is an understanding of what each of the ministries consists of. It revealed the problem. 35-40% of the people who work at a central government body perform supporting functions that are duplicated by different Central Governments. Another 15-20% is property management, and a small part is policymakers. And it should be the other way around.
  • The solution to this problem is in the question of remuneration. Not just wages but the entire system of compensation and benefits that accompanies the development and effective activity of civil servants allows them to be effective and perform their functions.

Speakers of the event were:

  • Roman Bondar, Senior Partner, Head of the Korn Ferry office in Kyiv.
  • Oleksandr Kornienko, First Deputy Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
  • Natalia Forsyuk, Director General of the Government Office for the Coordination of European and Euro-Atlantic Integration.
  • Alona Shkrum, People’s Deputy of Ukraine.

Serhii Sydorenko, editor of European Pravda media, and Roman Kobets, Ph.D. of Hryhorii Skovoroda Institute of Philosophy, moderated the event.

Also, on July 6, was held an online dialogue with the responsible for European integration processes in Poland and Latvia experts. You can watch the recording of the event by the link: https://youtu.be/BVwImQS8S48

The event was held within the framework of the Integrity and Governance project, which is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for Democracy, as well as with the support of the EU4PAR project and the Reform Delivery Office of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.