CiSEP Round Table “My Country, My Food: What Do EU Food Safety Laws Mean for Odessa and Ukraine?” in Odessa

On 12 December 2019, the first out of four planned regional round-tables took place in Odessa, with the topic “Food Safety and Consumer Protection”. As part of a new event series that was initiated in the framework of our project “Civic School for Sound European Practice” (CiSEP) to strengthen civil society’s partic­i­pation in the Ukrainian EU associ­ation process, the one-day event, which included a World Café and a public evening reception, mainly focused on the intro­duction of the so-called HACCP system (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) for compre­hensive food control according to coherent inter­na­tional standards. Also being an EU standard, this particular system is supposed to guarantee safe food also in Ukraine, where many consumers still become victims of food poisoning and fraud­ulent labeling.

The round-table event series is specif­i­cally focused on the challenges individual regions face in connection with the Associ­ation Agreement and the Deep and Compre­hensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) and is aiming to facil­itate open commu­ni­cation between civil society, business repre­sen­ta­tives and public admin­is­tration while also involving the inter­ested public in order to strengthen a constructive cooper­ation between the different social actors. The round-table events that are being offered in four different regions in the South, North, East and West of Ukraine are thus aimed at strength­ening local democracy and actively integrating the commu­nities in the associ­ation process.

For the round-table on the 12 December 2020, we had invited speakers from the NGO Analytical Centre for Agrarian Union of Ukraine, the Union of Entre­pre­neurs “The WALL” from the Vinnytsia oblast and the State Consumer Service in the Odessa region. They shared their insights from the perspec­tives of civil society, business and local admin­is­tration, into the current state of imple­men­tation of the direc­tives for hygiene standards when handling and processing food. Much attention focused on the concrete imple­men­tation of the HACCP control system (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) for the quality management of food production. One of the main issues identified was the question of respon­si­bility for the monitoring of the system. There were various opinions about whether the state should supervise and safeguard compliance to the guide­lines through compre­hensive and periodic inspec­tions or whether the businesses should do voluntary checks instead. The second part of the event was consti­tuted by a World Café on the subject of food safety, where two different questions were discussed in smaller groups: what can civil society do to ensure safe food and what measures there are to curb corruption in the food sector. The results of the group discussion were presented as a poster gallery and then discussed within the large group. The day concluded with the shared sentiment that even though there was still a lot to be done, the challenges could be overcome if the cooper­ation between the various state, entre­pre­neurial and civil society actors in such and similar formats was increased and sustained.

The event was completed with an evening reception. All guests were invited to reflect on the day and to further network. Due to Covid-19, the next CiSEP round-table on the topic of “Growing a local Green Economy in West Ukraine” — which was origi­nally planned to take place in Lviv — will for the first time be held in digital format presumably in mid-May.

The Civic School for Sound EU Practice (CiSEP) is a training programme for active citizens and change-makers from Ukraine. CiSEP is a Ukraine-wide network of specialists on questions related to the EU-Ukraine associ­ation agreement with the objective to strengthen the European integration of Ukraine.

The CiSEP project incubator series is funded by the German Federal Foreign Office and is imple­mented in cooper­ation with the local partner Odessa Regional Agency for Recon­struction and Devel­opment (ORARD).