Aspen Institute Kyiv held an online dialogue on enhancing the institutional capacity of the civil service on the path to European integration

On April 20th, Aspen Institute Kyiv, in collaboration with the Office of the Vice-Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine and the National Agency of Ukraine for Civil Service, held an online dialogue titled “Creating a Common Future: Education and Capacity Building as the Key to EU Integration.”

Denis Poltavets, Director of Program Development at Aspen Institute Kyiv, emphasized that the discussion would help identify the education sector’s priority tasks and determine how to transform Ukraine on the path to European integration.

“During the full-scale invasion, Ukraine became a candidate for EU membership, which further urges us to adhere to European standards, especially in education for public servants,” said Denis Poltavets.

Nataliya Alyushina, Head of the National Agency of Ukraine for Civil Service, emphasized that the organization of professional training for civil servants would strengthen the institutional capacity of government bodies in Ukraine and their human resources.

“There is a high interest of civil servants in the topic we are discussing today, and thus our efforts are focused on raising their knowledge and competencies. We are already cooperating with colleagues from European countries, particularly Poland, Finland, and France, so that Ukrainian civil servants can exchange experience with them,” said Natalia Alyushina.

During the dialogue, representatives from Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland shared their experiences of changes in educational programs, creating opportunities for training their country’s civil servants before and after joining the EU.

Adapting foreign experience in a particular country: one needs to find the recipe for their success.

Rafal Hykawy, former Director General of the Office of the Committee for European Integration of Poland, noted the necessity to consider the experience of European countries in the reform process. However, there is yet to be a universal recipe for success or specific steps to bring a hundred percent result. Instead, it is necessary to develop one’s way of improving the level of education of public servants. To do this, Mr. Rafal advised turning to people with practical experience – experts from ministries, departments directly involved in education issues, and other state institutions.

Rafal Hykawy also emphasized motivating experts to acquire new knowledge in European integration. He noted that it is necessary to make public servants interested, as some have been in the profession for quite a long time. In addition, this knowledge should be practical and open up new opportunities.

Motivating public servants as a driving force for positive change.

In this context, Gintaras Steponavicius, former Minister of Education and Science of Lithuania, emphasized the importance of a comprehensive approach to the education of civil servants. According to him, in this way, motivation will become an integrated element of the civil service system and will not require additional effort. Mr. Gintaras believes that during the implementation of reforms, attention should be focused on motivated public servants who can perform their duties qualitatively and propose practical solutions.

In the context of Ukraine, Gintaras Steponavicius believes that our country will need many programs to improve the qualifications of civil servants. Currently, such programs exist, but more is required to meet the needs of all those who want to enhance their capabilities. He also agreed that more attention should be paid to developing practical skills.

Understanding the end goal will make the path to achieving it easier.

According to Zaneta Ozoliņa, professor of the Department of Political Science, University of Latvia, courses on European integration should be integrated into education at various institutions rather than being limited to individual classes or programs. She believes a systematic study of European integration processes will ensure better results.

Zaneta Ozoliņa also noted that to achieve high results, it is necessary to clearly define the goal that education reform for public servants should lead to. According to her, finding a way to achieve this goal and those who can help with its implementation will be easier, mainly through exchanging experience and practical assistance.

A clear goal and result can serve as additional motivation for public servants. Zaneta Ozoliņa believes that the outcome of their work should inspire them, which will increase the professionalism of every civil servant.

During the discussion, participants were able to ask questions to the speakers. They discussed the challenges faced by the state apparatus on the path of European integration and educational initiatives that helped overcome them, as well as the role of public and private educational institutions in strengthening the capacity of the civil service, competition between programs, and synergy in preparing the next generation of professionals.

Yegor Grygorenko, a member of the KSE Board, Partner, and Head of Consulting and Risk Advisory practices at Deloitte Ukraine, moderated the dialogue.

The event is held jointly with the Office of the Vice-Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine and the National Agency of Ukraine for Civil Service with the support of the EU4PAR project and the Office of Reforms of the CMU.