OK. I am not going to fill this entry with links to previous civil society and NGO related posts – there are just too many. In almost equal number, are the press releases from Stefan Fule and the EC, promising platforms and finance to NGOs and civil society within the EaP nations. Many such press releases are contained within previous blog entries on civil society and NGOs here. Just put the key words in the search facility of the blog and wade through the results if you feel it necessary.
Suffice to say, there is enough within this blog to give the impression the EU gives civil society a great deal of prominence and attention. When the EU is throwing at the very least Euro 123 million at the EaP civil society issue this year, consistently making statements of support, and occasionally even meeting some members of civil society from this neck of the woods, one suspects that if there is no real intent to actually listen, and it is all window dressing – then it seems necessary to at least appear to listen so the window dressing does not become a tatty and obviously faux facade.
If there is a genuine will to listen and engage however – then Ukrainian NGOs have just added another difficulty to an already difficult position for the EU.
2 appeals to the EU have been signed by 57 Ukrainian NGOs. Most of these NGOs you won’t have heard of, and in all probability they only ever appear as signatories on letters such as this, and invoices for audit trails on EU records relating to grants and funding. Public recognition for most of these NGOs – zero – impact on society in Ukraine – also zero – impact on government policy – yes indeed, zero as well.
So how big an impact will they have on EU policy? These appeals are to the EU to sign the association agreements regardless of all the short term desired improvements in Ukraine happening or not.
That would put these domestic NGOs in the same policy position as the diaspora NGOs. Namely sign it – regardless.
To be fair, there are a number of EU member states who are thinking the same way as the NGOs – take the long term view and do not let the short term difficult issues get in the way.
After all, signing is simply that – ratification is a completely different matter.
Signing at the very least anchors Ukraine to the EU far more than any existing trade agreements with Russia does in an opposite direction – and ratification can wait whilst Ukraine sorts itself out (and whilst bits are quietly implemented without public fuss that are mutually beneficial).
Perhaps just as importantly, the EU also then has additional time to contemplate further, just what exactly to do with Ukraine. Large parts of the aquis communautaire will be systematically met when Ukraine has sorted itself out and the agreements are working and ratified some time in the future – Thus be it 20 years away from now, +/- 5 years – a formal request from Ukraine to join the EU may eventually appear with large sections of the aquis already met via the ratified and working AA and DCFTA. Then what excuses can it find to defer any such request?
Maybe the EU will have sorted itself out by then too – It is after all very good at telling others to reform, but very poor at actually reforming itself.
Anyway – back to the appeals to the EU by a significant number of domestic Ukrainian NGOs – one wonders just what weight the apparently highly valued input of Ukrainian civil society will have on what is supposed to be a civil society receptive EU should nothing of note change by November. Will EU self-imposed, principle based, short termist demands – if not met entirely – scuttle the long term objective, or will Ukrainian civil society appeals save the day?
No, as self-aggrandising and deluded as much of civil society and academia is – it will be regardless of civil society that both sides will probably just about do enough, and find sufficient wiggle room to sign it – before putting it on the shelf to gather dust for a year or two – and only thereafter (2016 at the earliest) will any serious attempt at ratification begin.
If it doesn’t happen. well it’s not as though much of civil society and academia actually have any connection whatsoever with most Ukrainian society anyway – thus the vast majority of the population won’t even know they appealed to the EU – and were then ignored.