European Program of International Renaissance Foundation

The essential role of the European Program lies in promotion of Ukraine’s European integration, combining external pressure of the EU with the domestic one of the Ukrainian civil society, and thus contributing to promotion of open society values in Ukraine.

From this perspective, we see European integration and the tools offered by the EU as a means to adopt European standards of democracy, good governance, transparency, accountability, fair competition, non-discrimination, protection of consumer rights and basic social human rights.


The IRF European Program is unique among all donors in that it comprehensively provides and supports the initiatives of civil society towards European integration. While the EU Delegation to Ukraine plays an important role, it mainly works with the government and less so with civil society. It focuses on monitoring developments in Ukraine and promoting the EU in Ukraine. Hence, the activities of the European Program and the EU Delegation complement each other. Activities of other donors – foundations and embassies of EU member states - are of ad-hoc nature and only partially complement activities of the European Program.

Since its launch in 2004, the Program has promoted and advocated a stronger role of civil society in the EU-Ukraine relations. In this regard, the Program’s advocacy has contributed to:


- Establishment of a Civic Expert Council within the Ukrainian part of the EU – Ukraine Cooperation Committee;
- Establishment of the Civil Society Forum of the Eastern Partnership and, subsequently, its Ukrainian National Platform;
- Inclusion of provision on a bilateral EU – Ukraine civil society platform in the text of the future Association Agreement.

In the previous years, the Program systematically supported the ‘Europe Without Borders’ civic coalition in monitoring the actual practice of issuance of Schengen visas to Ukrainian citizens to demonstrate the real impact of the Visa Facilitation Agreement (in force since 2008) and in advocacy for amendment of the Agreement, granting and, subsequently, implementation of the Action Plan on Visa Liberalization.

Owing to the Program’s support, the Ukrainian European Studies Association was established that now managed to receive financial support from the EU’s Jean Monnet program to further develop European studies at Ukrainian universities.

The Network of the (regional) European Information Centres of Ukraine was established with the Program’s initiative and support back in 2005-2006. During the previous strategy period, institutionalization of the Network took place that allowed it to become a fully independent and valuable partner for any nation-wide awareness raising activities in European integration issues.

In the mid-term future (5-10 years) we expect Ukrainian society and political elites to become less ambivalent about their sense of direction, and European integration to increasingly become an issue of domestic policy and Ukraine's transformation in various reform areas. We also expect that in short-to-mid-term, a change of the government will take place that will enable Ukraine and the EU to sign the Association Agreement and begin its implementation. It is to be understood that for the society the major benefits of European integration, and the Association Agreement in particular, will be following from implementation of the EU acquis into Ukrainian legislation. It is to be expected, however, that implementation of the Agreement will be resisted by a number of powerful vested interests. Therefore, open debates, studies, capacity building and advocacy activities of the Program will be required to make the voices of different interest groups heard and strengthen domestic demand for Europeanisation.

For the short-term perspective of 2011-12, the Program will concentrate on strengthening and expanding its advocacy activities related to promotion of the EU acquis in a number of fields in Ukraine, with the major supporting references to be the commitments under the EU – Ukraine Association Agenda and Association Agreement (even if the latter not yet in force). The issue-areas we will focus will reflect the Open Society values, are a part of Ukraine’s European integration specific commitments and potentially affect a considerable part of Ukrainian society. All the Program’s capacity building and networking activities will be streamlined to support these advocacy activities. Unlike in the previous strategy, awareness raising will not be regarded any more as a separate priority, but integrated in the advocacy work.

 

Contacts:

 

Dmytro Shulga

European Program Director

tel. +380 (44) 461 9500, fax. +380 (44) 486 0166,
e-mail: shulga@irf.kiev.ua
office: Kyiv, Bekhterevsky Lane, 13-a, room 5