Brussels UkraineLab has been launched!

Nearly 80 participants from Ukraine and 11 EU member states took part in the first Brussels UkraineLab 2016, which was organized by the Ukrainian Think Tanks Liaison Office in Brussels on the 29th of February 2016 with the support of the International Renaissance Foundation, the European Endowment for Democracy, Permanent Representation of Lithuania to the European Union and Mission of Canada to the European Union.

DSC01027The main purpose of the Brussels UkraineLab is to boost the cooperation between Ukrainian and the EU research and policy-related projects’ implementers and to help them to find support for their new projects for the sake of reforms in Ukraine.

Welcoming the participants, Peter Sondergaard, Director of Programmes at the European Endowment for Democracy, underlined that the expert community has a crucial role in the reforming of the country.

DSC_4405Dr. Olena Prystayko, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Think Tanks Liaison Office in Brussels presented the results of the survey of the participants of the Brussels UkraineLab. They shared their views on what projects they implement and/or plan to implement on/in Ukraine, what are the challenges they face in implementing the projects and what are the topics the participants consider priority topics for Ukraine in 2016.

Answering the main question of the first session “What kind of the analytical product is needed to build up a comprehensive policy process for reforms”, Dr. Peter Wagner, Head of the Support Group for Ukraine in European Commission noted that

We need more practical recommendations and we should strengthen our cooperation with the expert community

DSC01116He also highlighted an important role of business, which can be another recipient of the analytical product of the think tanks. Oksana Syroyid, Vice Speaker at the Parliament of Ukraine, echoed him saying that the new narratives and the constructive approach to the expert–authority cooperation is needed.

We recognize the lack of the qualified debate between the think tanks and the parliamentarians, says Syroyid

DSC_4383Civil society and the citizens should be able to more actively influence the public policies and the reforms in the country. Dr. Roman Shutov, Programme Director of Telekritika emphasized that

Citizens must be not only informed, but fully engaged into the reforms implementation process through a comprehensive communication strategy

During the second session, the participants exchanged the best cooperation practices and experience in funding opportunities for joint EU – Ukraine policy and research-related projects. Prof. Dr. Ihor Burakovskyi, Head of the Board at the Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting in Kyiv and Dr. Guillaume Van der Loo, Researcher at Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels, introduced their project dedicated to the Association Agreement and particularly Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA). It is a crucial step to analyse where the Association Agreement will lead Ukraine. Guillaume Van der Loo said

We will prepare several handbooks explaining to the different audiences who are the potential partners and what are the main economic challenges of DCFTA

Ihor Burakovskyi also highlighted such important reasons influencing DCFTA implementation as the export policy and standards policy which determine the cooperation between Ukraine and the EU.

20160229_114301Dr. Oleksandr Sushko, Head of the Board at International Renaissance Foundation, explained how the International Renaissance Foundation – being simultaneously a national donor and a member of a world-wide network of the Open Society Foundations – supports policy research in Ukraine. He referred to the example of the very Ukrainian Think Tanks Liaison Office in Brussels, which brings together such diverse think tanks.

Supporting civil society in Ukraine is the primary objective of our organization, and one of the influential factors for this is synergy of civil society and the research institutions, says Sushko

DSC_4423Another illustration of such a synergy is the programme “Horizon 2020”, which was presented by Dr. Neville Reeve, Senior Policy Analyst, DG Research and Innovation, European Commission. Neville Reeve focused on the possibilities the Horizon 2020 provides to the Ukrainian and EU think tanks, which implement policy and research-related projects aimed at promoting changes in Ukraine. He remarked that although there is a huge competitiveness in the field, the success rate of the Ukrainian think tanks, who already applied to the Horizon 2020 is higher than the average:

Ukrainian success in this field is quite reasonable because it overcomes the borders of any project and is rather a part of a wider process of changing national thinking

DSC01091New potential projects to be implemented commonly by the EU and Ukrainian think tanks, have been discussed during 5 sector-specific Working Groups: Energy and Environment, Good Governance and Rule of Law, DCFTA Implementation, Communication, Media and Access to Information and International Relations, Security and Migration Policy. The officials of the EU institutions working on Ukraine – Torsten Woellert, Frank Paul and Gavin Evans (Support Group for Ukraine European Commission), Ewa Synowiec (DG Trade, European Commission) and Angela Liberatore from the European Research Council chaired the discussions to help the experts to identify the most relevant and practical project ideas. In each of the working groups the participants developed ideas on the potential projects they will be able to commonly launch in the nearest future.

Right after the Brussels UkraineLab, the Ukrainian Week has been officially opened in the European Parliament. Ukrainian and EU experts participated in its opening.


The Brussels UkraineLab 2016 was supported by the International Renaissance Foundation, the European Endowment for Democracy, Permanent Representation of Lithuania to the European Union and Mission of Canada to the European Union.