Ukrainian and international experts exchanged experiences and opinions during the “Development of the capacity of civil servants as a precondition for successful European integration” online dialogue
On August 30, Aspen Institute Kyiv together with the Office of the Deputy 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 EU project, CMU Reforms Delivery Office, and the National Endowment for Democracy held an online dialogue “Development of the capacity of civil servants as a precondition for successful European integration”.
Important issues and topics were raised at this meeting. Ukraine has been granted EU candidate status, therefore it opens up new development opportunities. However, to take advantage of these, it is necessary to do a significant part of preparatory work which falls precisely on civil service as well as civil servants.
During an online dialogue, experts from Ukraine, Poland, Croatia and Latvia discussed how the requirements for civil servants’ competencies will change, what new challenges arise with European integration, and how other countries that have already become EU members took this path.
The dialogue consisted of two sessions. During the first one, experts from Ukraine shared their vision of measures that the Government has already planned to prepare civil service for challenges of European integration.
Among the invited speakers: Olha Stefanishyna, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine, Oleksandr Kornienko, First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Natalia Alyushina, Head of the National Agency of Ukraine for Civil Service, Natalia Forsyuk, the CEO of the Government Office for Coordination of European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Tetyana Kovtun, Executive Director of the CMU Reforms Delivery Office.
— Formation of a clear plan to strengthen the structures of personnel potential and professional training of civil servants is an absolute priority, without which the next political steps related to Ukraine’s EU membership are impossible. We need to form a new generation of specialists who will not only ensure the effectiveness of internal governmental European integration work but also will be able to represent Ukraine at negotiations and in EU institutions in a dignified manner. Moreover, forming EU policies together with experts from EU member states will be vital — emphasized Olha Stefanishyna, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine.
Oleksandr Kornienko, First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine added:
— Unfortunately, “personnel famine” will still be present soon. Perhaps, in this context, it is appropriate to talk about the optimization of the state apparatus, but any optimization is a delicate balancing act between the needs of the government bodies, state administration system, and the state’s financial capabilities. In addition, it is necessary to take into account society’s demand for services.
He also emphasized the importance of the draft law on administrative procedure signed by the President, which is very important for the interaction between the citizen and the state and, at the same time, fully compliant with European directives.
— Ukraine needs to have its platform for education which is why we are promoting the establishment of the Public Administration Higher School — Natalia Alyushina, Head of the National Agency of Ukraine for Civil Service, said in her speech, — This idea was supported, and today we have already submitted the documents to the Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.
She also added that public servants should have access to the best studying programs, not only in the center but also in the regions. Furthermore, such training should be built based on job classification and grading.
Natalia also reminded me about the Memorandum on cooperation with the largest educational company “EF Language Learning Solutions”.
— We have to make sure that the entire body of public servants gets the opportunity to study or improve their level of English. Civil servants will be able to take such courses free of charge soon — Natalia Alyushina added.
Natalia Forsyuk, CEO of the Government Office for the Coordination of European and Euro-Atlantic Integration noted that it is not individuals but all sectoral divisions’ employees who must understand EU law, its directives and regulations. It is necessary so that the process of drafting and writing laws or by-laws should already take place following European legislation.
She also emphasized the importance of high command of English, especially for those civil servants who will be involved in the process of negotiations with the EU.
— We plan to be ready to open negotiations no later than the middle of next year. In other words, there is not much time — emphasized Natalia Forsyuk.
Tetyana Kovtun, Executive Director of the CMU Reforms Delivery Office noted the value of the State Administration Reform, which has been ongoing for several years and especially showed its essence as well as meaning during the war.
— The fact that our country can conduct negotiations with the EU in a state of war became possible only because Ukraine has survived as a state and has functioning state institutions — said Tetyana Kovtun.
She also added that the real practical implementation of EU legislation with an assessment of the impact on sectors and stakeholders, with necessary calculations for reforms, is among the key challenges that the civil service currently faces.
Representatives of Croatia, Poland, and Latvia shared their experience of strengthening institutional capacity in the second part of the event.
Marek Tabor, Head of the European College in Natolin Department of Managers Education spoke about the features of the future training for Ukrainian civil servants within the framework of the “Natolin4Capacity Building” project.
— There are 6 mandatory courses: various aspects of the European integration of Ukraine, the internal market, transport, energy, and others. Also, there are about 10 elective courses, for example, interest protection, and anti-corruption. Topics were selected very carefully, according to educational needs. We also developed 16 online courses, their topics are already covered on the website. They are currently available in English and the Ukrainian version will be available in a month. In particular, more than 300 civil servants who have expressed their desire to undergo training have already been registered. A new set for registration will be opened soon — said Mr. Marek Tabor.
Rafal Hikawy is a former General Director of the Office of the Committee on European Integration of Poland. Rafal noted that the activity of the Office of the Committee on European Integration is quite similar to the Government Office in Ukraine but it has more employees. Two main functions of the office were as follows: coordinating the work of relevant ministries under European legislation. Secondly, conducting and collecting analytical data.
— People who mostly worked for us had no experience in the field of public administration. At that time, there was no practical knowledge of European integration. We had to learn all of this in working groups — noted Rafal Hikavy.
He added that the training had begun with getting to know the EU institutions and its policy. Funds received from European and bilateral programs were used for this. Such studies were predominantly based in prestigious universities such as the National School of Administration (France). Also, the Office of the Committee on European Integration signed several agreements with European colleges and institutions that allowed participation in conferences and seminars on privileged terms.
Tamara Obradovic Mazal, former Deputy Head of Negotiations, Minister Assistant responsible for screening and approximation of legislation (Croatia) emphasized that the challenges of all countries that are on the path to EU accession have a lot in common. Therefore it is crucial to refer to the experience of countries that already belong to the EU. According to Tamara, the scholarship program was an important decision of the Croatian Government at that time. 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.
Esmeralda Balode-Buraka, a lecturer at the University of Latvia and a former civil servant spoke about the peculiarities of the civil servants’ selection for the European Law Master’s program. She also explained why the work of lawyers is one of the main factors in terms of European integration. She emphasized the importance of training, after which the graduate can explain in simple words at first glance the conditions and directives of European legislation that are complex. Moreover, such an understanding is the key to successful practice.
Roman Kobets, a research fellow at the Institute of Philosophy named after H.S. Skovoroda, moderated the event.
The event was held by Aspen Institute Kyiv with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration and The National Agency of Ukraine for Civil Service as a part of the Integrity and Governance Project, 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 Reform Delivery Office of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.