EESC lessons for Ukrainian civil society on how to contribute more actively to the implementation of the DCFTA

On May 21, EESC Political Analyst Dovilė Šukytė upon invitation of the Civic Synergy Project (Ukraine) took part in a discussion "How to provide effective civic participation in implementation of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) Agreement: discussion and exchange of experience".

During the event in Kyiv, Dovilė Šukytė presented the methodology and results of the EESC led project “Georgia on European Way: Creation of Effective Model for DCFTA and SME Strategy Implementation”. The project, which covered all regions of Georgia, was designed to raise awareness among civil society organizations about DCFTA, to enable them to educate the society, particularly small and medium-sized entrepreneurs, about opportunities provided by DCFTA and to cooperate and assists local and central governments in DCFTA implementation.

More than 150 civil society organizations gained the missing knowledge during the project “Georgia on European Way”. A part of them – 60 organizations – took advantage of the opportunity to receive funding for projects to inform regional residents about the benefits of free trade with the EU and to inform small and medium-sized entrepreneurs about existing support mechanisms that could lead them to export to the EU market. It is estimated that more than 500 events have been organized thanks to the funding provided and more than 20,000 different newsletters printed out information that reached out to more than 1 million local people.

Among the lessons that could be successfully applied in Ukraine, Šukytė identified a dialogue between civil society, small and medium-sized entrepreneurs and local and central government. During the project, local advisory councils were established in each region of Georgia to unite these three groups, to identify problems that prevent local producers from using DCFTA and exporting to the EU. Not to mention to propose possible solutions that were subsequently handed over to the Ministries responsible for implementing the agreement.

Ukrainian experts who participated in the discussion also shared their experiences. Tetiana Tymoshenko, who represented the EU-Ukraine Civil Society Platform, noted that there is a need to focus on the authorities, but also on the final beneficiaries of DCFTA – producers and consumers. Tymoshenko emphasized the need to properly communicate the values, rules, and requirements set out in the Agreement, because it is hard for those unfamiliar with the technical language to understand what is required and adapt the production quality accordingly.

National Ukrainian Platform for Eastern Partnership Civil Society representative Maksym Koriavets shared the work and tasks of the Platform in contributing to DCFTA implementation. Koriavets confirmed that DCFTA and the monitoring of its implementation are not easy tasks for civil society organizations, and that it is therefore important to share the experience of the organizations in all the countries implementing the agreement such as Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine.

The head of the Center for Research of Modern Society of the Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting Oksana Kuziakiv emphasized the duality of the work of civil society organizations when it comes to using bureaucratic language with civil servants and, how to communicate with the general public by using easily understandable terms. She shared experience of her Centre when assisting Ukrainian institutions with the customs reform. According to Kuziakiv, it is very important to develop dialogue with the authorities, to be able to perform qualitative analysis of the implemented reform, and to communicate the necessity and results of the reform to the general public.

For those interested in implementation of DCFTA in Ukraine, we recommend visiting the website of the Civil Synergy Project, where analytical reviews prepared by different Ukrainian civil society organizations are published.