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).