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Expert discussion on European Union measures to support Ukraine in the fight against COVID-19 and measures to ease the economic impact

Participants: Michael Gahler, Member of the European Parliament (MEP), European People’s Party, Standing Rapporteur on Ukraine & Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee; Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, Committee on Foreign Affairs; Viktor Liakh, President of East Europe Foundation, representatives of the USAID RADA Program, East Europe Foundation and Zentrum Liberale Moderne; 2 MPs aides.

Moderator: Rebecca Harms

During the expert discussion, two issues were discussed: 1) functioning of parliaments under COVID-19 conditions and 2) functioning of the European Union under the all aspects of solidarity.

Michael Gahler mentioned that in order to preserve people, boarders among the countries were closed. He indicated that Ukraine would receive 190 million euro from the European Union for the fight with the crisis caused by COVID-19 to provide help in the most vulnerable spheres – health protection, small and medium businesses, humanitarian systems, civil society. Michael Gahler said that there were no party conferences during the quarantine and little by little they were returning to the normal way of work.

Associations and non-governmental organizations were helping to cope with the quarantine, they truly helped to overcome the most difficult situations during the quarantine.

The Ministry of Finance and the Budget Committee should announce their intentions to assist the artists, because of the lost opportunity to earn. It is also possible to address for help to a parliamentary committee in cultural affairs. There are calls for the audience not to demand money for canceled concerts, mass media also need support from the audience.

The agriculture sector was severely affected by the crises – it was impossible for seasonal workers to come. Oil production should be supported on the South.

Viola von Cramon-Taubadel mentioned the need of scrutiny oversight for this financial help that is given to Ukraine. She said that during the work on the budget 79 amendments and changes were made and individual voting took a lot of time.

Regarding the current work, Viola mentioned meetings and webinars they had on local and European levels on the very beginning of the quarantine; they were coordinating well so far and the most important thing now was to come back to normal work. Working, they follow the rules regarding the disinfection and masks.

Rebecca Harms said that now it was time for coordinated common efforts to revive the economy and provide support for the development of the vaccine.

Agriculture sector suffers a lot, there is a danger that no one will fill the jobs. Rebecca commented on the Jean Monnet dialogue and underlined on importance of institutional capacity building to create more effective parliament, exchange of experience between the Verkhovna Rada and the European Parliament.

Viktor Liakh asked how parliament would continue democratic practices and mentioned that Ukraine was eager to learn and gain experience. His questions also covered how to prepare policy documents, the creation of the research service, communication in constituencies.

East Europe Foundation