New Impulses for the CiSEP Network after the Online Convention 2020

Due to the devel­op­ments relating to COVID-19, this year’s CiSEP Convention “Shaping It Together: Our Future, Our Community, Our Respon­si­bility“ took place virtually from 22 to 25 June 2020. The large-scale event equally marked the completion of the, since September 2015 ongoing training programme for active citizens around the imple­men­tation of the AA/DCFTA in Ukraine as well as the hour of birth of an independent network, which in the future will accel­erate the country’s further EU integration under its new name “ Civic Initiative for Sound EU Practice“.

The 4‑day programme for the alumni of the training series started with a public opening, to which ambas­sadors, repre­sen­ta­tives of Ukrainian civil society organ­i­sa­tions and journalists were invited as well. After a retro­spection on the begin­nings, the devel­opment and previous achieve­ments, that was assembled by IEP project managers and the Ukrainian project partners, three CiSEP fellows got a chance to speak. They each referred to their personal experi­ences with working in the realm of civil society in Ukraine and spoke about the challenges, but also the oppor­tu­nities of the EU integration on a regional level as well as their own contri­bu­tions to positive changes. The local perspective transi­tioned into a panel discussion, during which the European perspective on Ukraine‘s associ­ation process found expression. Anka Feldhusen, the German ambas­sador in Kyiv, Stefan Schle­uning from the EU Delegation for Ukraine and Marina Nelina from the Government Office for the Coordi­nation of European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine shared their assessment of the current situation and answered the questions by the audience. The focus was on the country’s dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and its potential effects on the progress of the associ­ation process, the state of reforms and the signif­i­cance of civil society when it comes to commu­ni­cating success stories. The discussion was moderated by IEP director Katrin Böttger.

The second day of the convention was entirely dedicated to the devel­opment of the network. The alumni exchanged on the current state, the respon­si­bil­ities and skills but above all on the future of the network. As the result, the statute and the strategic goals were accepted by common consent. Furthermore, the members of an interim initiative group were elected to introduce the first steps towards the successful and collective transfer of the already very specific project ideas. The “Civic Initiative for Sound EU Practice“ considers itself as THE voice of Ukrainian civil society related to the imple­men­tation of the associ­ation and free trade agreement in the regions.

On the third and fourth day the partic­i­pants of the convention were able to choose between a total of 22 partially parallel happening workshops. Themat­i­cally the online workshops ranged from EU associ­ation, network and project devel­opment, skill devel­opment and exchange of experi­ences. Workshops were offered on digiti­zation, intel­lectual property rights in the EaP countries, EU food safety and consumer protection, environ­mental protection and the revelance of data protection for civil society organ­i­sa­tions. In the realm of skill devel­opment seminars were given on successful project management, monitoring on a local level, awareness raising, online facil­i­tation and the use of social media. Moreover, there was a project incubator, a round-table for exchanging on the current political situation in Ukraine and a workshop around EU topics for youth.

The ending of the conference was shaped by a “Project Devel­opment Speedrun“, during which partic­i­pants were asked to develop a call for appli­ca­tions and accord­ingly a project proposal for their own network in a limited amount of time. The result were many exciting ideas! Furthermore, the winners of the photo story challenge, which had been announced on the second day of the convention, were awarded with a prize. The task was to work together in small groups and create a visual expression of a pressing problem in their region as well as an approach to a solution and their vision for the future. During the closing ceremony, the IEP project manager reflected on the eventful convention days, expressed their thanks to everyone involved and made their farewells to the now independent CiSEP network – with the best wishes for the future and a strong Ukrainian civil society!

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.

This event was organised in cooper­ation with our local partners Odessa Regional Agency for Recon­struction and Devel­opment (Odessa), Polissya Foundation for Inter­na­tional and Regional Studies (Tschernihiw), Civil Network Opora (Lviv), and the NGO “Public Chamber of Ukraine“ (Dnipro).

CiSEP is supported by the German Federal Foreign Office.