On the 18th of October, in Brussels, ChildPact participated to the civil society consultations prior to the 2016 European Neighbouring Policy (ENP) Report for Ukraine. The consultations have been jointly conducted by the European External Action Service together with the European Commission.
This consultation is the first of its kind after the newly reshaped European Neighbouring Policy with the Eastern and Southern partner countries of the EU. This new type of reporting comes to replace the previous ENP country Progress Reports. At the basis of the reporting changes is the principle of differentiation, strongly promoted by the ENP: each country will negotiate and design separately with the EU a more country specific list of priorities and actions to be taken. It’s no longer the ‘one size fits all’ type of approach. Thus, part of the changes are that the new ENP country reports are likely to be more factual, with a strong focus on what has been achieved and what has not been achieved from the list of priorities negotiated between the EU and Ukraine – in this case, the cooperation priorities envisaged by the Association Agenda. Thus, the new ENP reports aim to be assessments of the partnership itself rather than the EU’s assessment on the progress of a country.
The 2016 ENP report for Ukraine is due by December 2016. The main discussion points with the CSOs were about the following: (1) Presentation by EEAS of the state of play of EU-Ukraine relations and the preparations of the country report; (2) Association Agreement implementation: current priority issues; (3) DCFTA implementation (and presentation of the DAG); (4) EU support to Ukraine (DG NEAR / Support Group Ukraine).
During the discussions, ChildPact stressed the importance of EU’s support towards the deinstitutionalisation efforts undertaken by Ukraine – through the lead of the Ombudsperson for Children – and towards the child protection system reform. These reform steps are only at the beginning in Ukraine, and children should remain a priority of the EU-Ukrainian cooperation in order to receive enough political momentum and support for action. ChildPact also emphasised the importance of regional cooperation for child protection as Ukraine’s experience constitutes such a successful story: a resourceful collaboration between ChildPact and UNDP Romania made it possible for two officials from Ukraine (Nikolai Kuleba, the Ukrainian Ombudsman for Children) and Georgia (Mari Tsereteli, a Georgian governmental representative of the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs) to make a study visit in Romania, in order to learn about the way the deinstitutionalisation process has been handled and implemented in the country. Inspired by the Romanian example, the Ukrainian Ombudsperson was better informed about the means of implementation and challenges entailed by such a complex child protection system reform as the deinstitutionalisation of children.