As part of the GURN project, the Institut für Europäische Politik (Berlin) and its partner organisation Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation (Kyiv) developed a call for research project proposals targeted at Ukrainian think tanks. Against the background of insufficient Ukrainian state funding for independent research, the project activity aimed at enabling researchers to develop and implement innovative ideas. The possibility to conduct independent research is an important element in the course of strengthening civil society actors, in particular think tanks, as institutions. The most convincing submissions received up to 5,000 EUR to finance the research process and publish the results by the end of 2020.
The fact that there is a need for international calls of this kind in Ukraine can be easily understood by taking a look at the number of proposals submitted: The GURN project team received almost 40 applications. Some of the applications were submitted by renowned Ukrainian organisations — not only from Kyiv, but also from various regions of the country. Several research projects focused on the sustainability of the decentralisation reform or on the impact of reforms in the areas of social security, education and infrastructure in rural areas. Another thematic focus was the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on regional economic growth, labour migration, civil society and digitalisation, as well as public trust in government policy. The upcoming local elections also served as a starting point for different research designs, for example in connection with populism or environmental policy. Topics in the context of German-Ukrainian relations mainly focused on the energy sector and the German foreign policy in relation to the annexation of the Crimean peninsula.
We would like to thank all applicants for their interest and the numerous submissions to the project call! The selection of topics surprised and inspired us and has also given us valuable insights into the current scientific discourse in Ukraine. In the end, however, three applications convinced us most – with their principal idea, their outstanding academic level and their high-quality research design.
The first research project that was financially supported by GURN is dedicated to the question of how efficient the political measures are that aim to support high school graduates from Crimea and the temporarily occupied territories in the Donezk and Luhansk oblasts with the admission to a Ukrainian university and what special risks they are exposed to, especially in times of COVID-19. The research proposal was submitted by the analytical platform VoxUkraine. VoxUkraine is an independent platform that publishes impartial assessments of political and economic developments in Ukraine based on scientific methods.
The second project idea that fully convinced our team was submitted by the Lviv-based analytical centre “CIFRA”. The core competence of the organisation lies in election monitoring and the research of social and political processes. With regard to the upcoming local elections in Ukraine, they have examined the influence of COVID-19 on the integrity of the electoral process, especially on the mobilisation of the district electoral commissions.
The third research project that was supported by GURN is based on an idea developed by the Centre for Economic Strategy (CES) which focuses on the research of the country’s economic processes. CES analysed how to optimise the link between macroeconomic forecasts for the Ukrainian economy and the compilation of the state budget by taking international practices into account, especially German budgeting mechanisms.
The research projects were funded within the framework of the project "German Ukrainian Researchers Network" (GURN 1, 2019-2020) and by the German Federal Foreign Office.