How European experience can help Ukrainian civil servants to accelerate European integration

The opportunity to study in Europe, undergo an internship in the administrations of developed countries and help accelerate European integration in Ukraine — such a path has been overcome by more than one EU member state. Now it is our state’s turn. Yes, new horizons are opening up for public servants. Foreign colleagues from Poland, Latvia, and Croatia told about this at an online dialogue organized by Aspen Institute Kyiv on August 30.

So, in the second part of the series of materials, we present the main quotes that will shape the perception of learning and the importance of the success of European integration, which directly correlates with public administration and public service.

The recording is available by the link in Ukrainian 

and English 

You can get acquainted with the messages of Ukrainian experts who participated in the online dialogue “Development of the capacity of civil servants as a prerequisite for successful European integration” by following the link.

Marek Tabor, Head of Executive Education at the European College in Notalyn, Poland:

The Natolin Campus in Warsaw is a leader in academic research on the politics of the EU and EU neighboring countries. Currently, he provides great assistance in the training of civil servants, and negotiators from the Ukrainian side, who should ensure the quick and effective accession of Ukraine to the European community.

According to Marek, the initial training plan for Ukrainians consists of six mandatory courses: aspects of Ukraine’s European integration, the internal market, the field of transport, energy, etc. Another ten are optional, for example, a course on anti-corruption policy. The topics are chosen with extreme care, depending on the needs.

Training, says Marek, will take place face-to-face and online. Sessions in Poland are planned for 200 Ukrainian civil servants, including study visits to European institutions.

16 e-learning courses in English have already been developed. You can learn more about them on the official website of the College. At the end of September, they will be available in Ukrainian. About 300 people have already applied. Currently, Marek Tabor is coordinating with NADS on the final details regarding the evaluation of the results.

Participants who will come to Poland for 2 months will have a topic to research. It is expected that they will prepare an analysis of documents from the national position in the negotiation procedure.

Marek Tabor: “An important component of the training program is field trips. Each participant in Poland will attend conferences and interviews, and meet with other members of the negotiation teams. They will be offered the choice of a study trip to one of the institutions of the European Union. It can be Brussels or the administration of EU member states.”

Rafal Hikavy, former General Director of the Office of the Committee on European Integration of Poland:

The office headed by Rafal is very similar to the Government Office for the Coordination of European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine. However, in Poland, it had a larger staff – of 250 people, of which only 25-30 were responsible for bringing national legislation closer to EU legislation.

The office had two basic functions: coordination of the work of relevant ministries in legislative approximation and performance of analytical tasks important for the results of negotiations.

According to Rafal, it is difficult to count the number of trained people. About 12,000 participants took only online courses on specialized training. All this happened on the path of Poland’s accession to the EU.

“How exactly were people trained? We started with a very general training for relevant ministries – familiarization with EU institutions and their policies. For this, we used funds received from European bilateral programs. Usually, this took place based on prestigious universities, for example, the National School of Administration (France). Also, the Office of the Committee on European Integration signed several agreements with European colleges and institutions, which allowed us to participate in conferences and seminars on privileged terms,” ​​Rafal Hikavy said.

Tamara Obradovic Mazal, former deputy head of the negotiating team, the assistant minister responsible for screening and approximation of legislation, Croatia:

Tamara directly participated in the negotiation process between Croatia and the European Union. Her country, like most candidate countries, also faced many challenges.

Initially, its government office for European integration had a limited number of employees who worked on information campaigns, communication strategies, and approximation of national legislation to European legislation.

According to Tamara, a crucial decision of the Croatian Government at that time was the scholarship program. It allowed the delegation of civil servants to study abroad. After returning, graduates were employed by ministries with periodic rotations from one to another. That was critically necessary for the transposition.

Also, the Croatian Government Office for European Integration managed to minimize the negative impact of politics on the EU accession process.

Tamara Obradovych Mazal: “We agreed with all the parties and the opposition: in the event of political disputes, they should keep the implementation of EU legislation outside the boundaries of their political battles. It was also critically important for us that the legislation that we submitted to the Parliament should not be amended to distort the transposed legislation.” 

Esmeralda Balode-Buraka, lecturer at the Latvian University, participant of the EU law training program, Latvia: 

The master’s program that Esmeralda joined started in 2000, that is, four years before Latvia joined the European Union. She was delegated to study by the Office of European Integration – her place of work at that time. 

The requirements were as follows: Bachelor’s level in the field of law and knowledge of the English language at the B2 level. Students completed general internships at institutions in Brussels and Luxembourg. 

According to Esmeralda, there was also an opportunity to choose an individual internship in the European Commission or the national governments of the member countries. She chose the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The most important thing, Esmeralda said, is to acquire not only detailed knowledge of European legislation but also an understanding of its spirit. That is especially relevant for such countries as Latvia and Ukraine, which have a post-Soviet background. 

“What I recommend is not to miss the opportunity to study. If there is a chance to become a member for free, even online, be sure to take it. In a few years, such an opportunity may not be available, or it may be expensive. For me, it was the best decision in my life. I am infected with this spirit and have been working for many years,” concluded the participant of the program. 

The event was held by Aspen Institute Kyiv together with the Office of the Vice-Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration and NADS within the framework of the project “Virtue and governance”, which is implemented with the support of a grant from the National Endowment for Democracy, as well as with the support of the EU4PAR project and the Office of Reforms of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.