Policy brief: A summary of perception studies in Ukraine

Roman Petrov, Kateryna Ivashchenko-Stadnik, Alessandra Russo

This policy brief presents the results of a perception study that assessed how local stakeholders in Ukraine considered the EU’s approach to crisis management and its commitments to local ownership and conflict sensitivity. The data for this study were collected through a quota-based survey conducted in selected locations across Ukraine in July 2017. Questionnaires were administered via 190 face-to-face and telephone interviews with target groups that included Internally Displaced People (IDPs), traders/entrepreneurs, NGO activists, security sector officers, local council representatives and other actors and practitioners that represent categories of actual and/or potential beneficiaries of EU crisis response instruments, programmes and policies.  

While more than half of the respondents considered themselves to be professionally involved in crisis response, only a minority said that they personally benefited from EU crisis response instruments. The survey has shown that the EU remains among the top-three most recognised international actors involved in crisis response in Ukraine; among the different instruments deployed by the EU in that framework, respondents were most aware of political/diplomatic activities, development aid, and humanitarian assistance. The survey also showed that perceptions about the effectiveness of the EU’s crisis response vary across regions. For nearly half of respondents the EU’s presence has had positive effects, for a third it has either aggravated or had no effect on the crisis.  

During the survey interviews, some respondents pointed to the perceived criticalities of the EU’s crisis response endeavours: above all, the EU’s actions seem to come ‘too little, too late’ and should be reframed as partnership rather than assistance.  

Moreover, proceeding from respondents’ inputs, we can formulate some policy recommendations:  

  • EU crisis response actions should take into account regional variations and peculiarities: local counterparts should be targeted though tailored initiatives, distributing projects in a more balanced way across the country;  
  • the EU should improve its own monitoring mechanisms when allocating funds and better display its commitment as a credible and transparent donor and grant provider: budgetary procedures should be exercised to ensure greater transparency and accountability of all actors involved;  
  • the EU’s crisis response actions in Ukraine should offer a long-term strategic vision on issues such as the reintegration and resettlement of IDPs and the rehabilitation of war veterans;
  • more and better organised information is recommended through the establishment of regional EU platforms and resource centres.  

The survey may be considered to be both a good ‘barometer’ of local actors’ perceptions about the EU’s crisis response and a series of fresh inputs to improve the EU’s approach to the crisis in Ukraine.