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The Future of EU-Ukraine Relations

Since 1991, each Ukrainian government has stated that Ukraine was an integral part of the European family and declared its European choice.However, Ukraine’s European integration policy has suffered from incon­sistency.This can be explained, first of all, by objective factors, including the huge number of issues and chal­lenges related to post-communist transformation.The lack of a comprehensive strategy as well as irrational decisions and mistakes made by all governments have resulted in additional obstacles in Ukraine’s quest for Europeanization.

One of the most controversial issues is the prospect of European Union (EU) membership for Ukraine.Ukraine’s integration into the EU is one of the coun­try’s officially declared strategic goals, and became law in 2010.Despite that, this issue remained a subject of political polemics, resulting in deepening divergence in the society.

The active political measures of Ukraine towards the signing of an Association Agreement (AA) with the EU at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius in Novem­ber 2013 raised hopes for the introduction and imple­mentation of necessary reforms.Many Ukrainians be­lieved that the AA would determine the path of Ukraine for years ahead; the path of a state based on European values and a European standard of living.The Ukrainian government’s decision not to sign the AA showed that decision-makers had failed to deliver.

The scenario project, »The Future of EU-Ukraine Rela­tions«, was envisaged to facilitate free and open dis­cussions on plausible scenarios for the future of EU-Ukraine relations by the year 2030.The Kyiv Office of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) invited 26 participants from across Ukraine with diverse expertise related to EU-Ukraine relations, to take part in two workshops designed to identify and elaborate various images of the future.The project’s overall goal was to enrich the debate on EU-Ukraine relations by providing new per­spectives.

The scenario method, rather popular in business and management, is increasingly used in the world of poli­tics.As the saying goes, it is very hard to make predic tions, especially if they concern the future.Thus, scenar­ios are not about forecasting the most likely future, but about drafting different plausible futures.The core of the deliberation is presented by two questions: »What if..?« and »Why..?« The scenarios presented here give us an idea of what the future of EU-Ukraine relations in the year 2030 could be like.But they do not tell us what is the most likely outcome.Thus, criticizing sce­narios for »being unlikely« is not justified.As long as they are plausible, they should be taken into account by policymakers and experts alike — precisely because they describe possible future consequences of decisions taken today.

The project’s two workshops took place in Kyiv on 2–4 December 2013, and from 30 January to 1 February 2014.The work on the scenarios was finished by 14 Feb­ruary.This work represents the joint intellectual efforts of each and every member of the Scenario Team, who, although representing different institutions, all took part in a private capacity.The additional challenge in elabo­rating the scenarios was the fact that over the course of the exercise, extraordinary developments occurred in Ukraine that put into question the basic assumptions.Nevertheless, we believe that the underlying trends are still there.

Guided by the experienced facilitator Björn Kulp, the participants tried to develop four conceivable, consis-tent, and consequential scenarios that merit the atten­tion of Ukrainian and European authorities alike.Special thanks go to Maryna Yaroshevych of FES Kyiv for the perfect organization, constructive suggestions, and re­marks during discussions.

One of the major steps of scenario building is the se­lection of key factors from the present situation and the identification of the »driving forces« that shape EU-Ukraine relations to the year 2030.After a long but fruitful discussion, the participants agreed on three sets of driving forces: political, economic, and social.The po­litical driving forces are the Association Agreement and the visa-free regime, types of governance and the forth­coming elections, foreign policy in Russia and the EU, public control, and the rule of law.The economic driving forces include employment and labour migration, trade and investment, energy issues, science and innovation.Civil society, education, and social standards are the most crucial social driving forces.

Despite differing and partially contradictory positions while weighing up the driving forces and the importance of diverse impetuses, the participants agreed on four possible scenarios for the future of EU-Ukraine relations.In a symbolic manner, they were pointed out with the road signs that express the speed with which Ukraine drives towards the EU.

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Four scenarios on the state of EU-Ukraine Relations in the year 2030 were developed by a Scenario Team from across Ukraine. Scenarios do not attempt to predict the future, but offer different pictures of possible and plausible futures. They can be helpful in enabling decision-makers and stakeholders to adapt their strategies in order to achieve or avoid a certain scenario. Two scenarios describe a process of Ukraine moving successfully towards the European Union. In the »Highway«-Scenario, a democratic Ukraine becomes a full EU member by 2030. On the »Speed-limit Road«, significant advancements in adopting European standards are made, turning the country into a »bridge« between the EU and Russia. On the »Bumpy Road«, relations are characterized by ambiguity, with little progress on the integration path. In the fourth scenario, relations have reached a »Dead-end Road«, with democracy in Ukraine on the retreat and a stronger integration with the Eurasian space.