How Can Parliaments Best Support Ukraine? Highlights from our Interparliamentary Lab
On 12 September, policymakers from 11 parliaments took part in the first Open European Dialogue Interparliamentary Lab “War in Ukraine: Collaboration Initiatives for Parliaments”.
The Lab represents a continued pan-European cross-party effort to develop improved coordination and strategic exchange of parliamentary responses to the ongoing war in Ukraine.
OED X UKRAINE TRACK: OUR ONGOING EFFORTS TO STRENGTHEN PARLIAMENTARY COLLABORATION IN TIMES OF WAR
The Open European Dialogue network has been meeting to discuss the ongoing situation in Ukraine on multiple occasions ever since the outbreak of the war.
In 2022, members of the Open European Dialogue network participated in three emergency calls, where over 70 MPs, as well as experts from international organisations and civil society, came together to share their views on how to best mobilise help in support of Ukraine. Our Annual Policymakers Dialogue focused – among other topics – on the war in Ukraine and brought European politicians face-to-face with their Ukrainian colleagues to discuss immediate responses and support strategies.
In 2023, right ahead of this year’s NATO summit in Vilnius, 19 Open European Dialogue members from 16 countries travelled to Warsaw, where they discussed the implications of the war across Europe and considered future scenarios for the evolution of the war.
Participants left the workshop with a multitude of insights, shared questions and concerns, as well as the desire to learn more from other political perspectives and better understand what shapes the positions of others on the war.
Above all, there was a shared demand to keep the conversation going, as more interparliamentary exchange is seen as crucial to maintaining momentum and attention on the ongoing conflict.
“There isn’t a space for us national parliamentarians to work together on our response to the Ukraine War. We need a channel where we can keep coordinating and exchanging strategies.”
– Member of the Estonian Parliament, “War in Ukraine” OED Future Workshop participant
INTERPARLIAMENTARY LAB: A PAN EUROPEAN CROSS-PARTY INITIATIVE
The Interparliamentary Lab that was held on September 12th was born out of the initiative and desire of the Open European Dialogue parliamentarians to deepen their exchange on strategies and collaboration initiatives for parliamentary action in support of Ukraine.
The Open European Dialogue is proud to have offered its dialogue platform and methods to support its members in advancing their collective thinking and brainstorming new ideas in a unique cross-party and cross-border collaboration format.
Today, we are excited to share the latest outcomes of this track of work where dialogue meets action.
Below you will find an account of the three interparliamentary initiatives which have been identified as having the highest potential for impact, as well as an invitation to continue working on these across countries and parliaments.
INTERPARLIAMENTARY COLLABORATION INITIATIVES IN SUPPORT OF UKRAINE
Participating parliamentarians at the Interparliamentary Lab discussed several avenues for strengthening cross-border collaboration across Parliaments in support of Ukraine. The following initiatives were deemed to hold the most potential.
Disclaimer: The Open European Dialogue is a politically neutral, cross-party, cross-country dialogue platform for European politicians. Please note that this readout does not represent the views of the Open European Dialogue, its partners, nor all of its members.
INITIATIVE #1 – BEST PRACTICE SHARING ON FIGHTING RUSSIAN PROPAGANDA
Participants committed to gathering information on what is being done in their own countries in terms of countering Russian propaganda and meet again via a virtual exchange to share and compare legislation and discuss possible next steps.
What could this initiative do?
- Map best practices on the issue of Russian disinformation
- Share knowledge and resources on strategies on how to combat Russian disinformation and hate speech against Ukraine
Resources shared by parliamentary colleagues
- Estonian approach: Information about the Estonian Consumer Protection and Technical Supervision Agency (TTJA) blocking a total of 11 Russian news sites
- 2018 and 2022 European Commission Codes of Practice on Disinformation
- Ukrainian approach: Presentation on the Ukrainian instruments currently in use to address disinformation
- Upcoming conference: Disinformation and Democracy to take place on 28 September in Slovakia
- Worrisome public opinion trends: Globsec Trends from May 2023 on support for Ukraine in Central and Eastern Europe
- Covid best-practice example of fact-checking: Covid-19 Fact-checking page from the Italian Ministry of Health
- OECD Report: Disinformation and Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine: Threats and governance responses (November 2022).
- Best-practice from the representation of the European Commission in Italy: 12 false myths about Russia’s war in Ukraine unmasked
“War starts in the brain. If you have a war of propaganda, a war of ideologies, there will eventually be an actual war – that is why it is important that we regulate disinformation and do it now.”
– Member of the Ukrainian Parliament
INITIATIVE #2 – INTERPARLIAMENTARY CONFERENCE ON THE SIDELINES OF THE NEXT EUROPEAN POLITICAL COMMUNITY
The core objective of this initiative would be to organize a multi-stakeholder dialogue, that would include a highly diverse group of members of parliaments among its participants, on the sidelines of the next European Political Community (EPC) gathering.
Why is this important?
- Continued dialogue and deepened cross-country and cross-party engagement on the issue of Ukraine is needed to maintain attention on the war and its long-term consequences. The space for debate in national parliaments is shrinking and parliaments are defaulting to country-specific priorities.
- Exchanging country-specific insights and expertise, particularly on what the consequences of this war across Europe could look like, will have a direct impact on other crucial debates such as energy consumption, rule of law and future of the European Democracy.
- Meeting on the sidelines of an already established political gathering, will attract the interest of a varied group of stakeholders which in turn could expand the scope and ambition of cross-border collaboration initiatives on Ukraine.
Potential ways forward
- Establish connection with organisers of the next European Political Community conference in 2024
- Setting the agenda and selecting the expertise for the multi-stakeholder dialogue
- Recruit participants across European parliaments (through the Open European Dialogue)
The European Political Community (EPC) is an intergovernmental forum for political and strategic discussions about the future of Europe, established in 2022 after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The group first met in October 2022 in Prague with participants from 44 European Countries as well as the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission.
Main results of the latest meeting of the European Political Community (1 June 2023)
INITIATIVE #3 – CROSS-COUNTRY PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATIONS TO VISIT UKRAINE
Organize the visit of cross-party and cross-border parliamentary delegations to Ukraine to maintain political momentum high on supporting Ukraine’s war efforts and raise awareness and a deeper understanding of the realities and needs on the ground.
The visit of these delegations could be organized in partnership with local organisations, such as the civil network Opora, a community with competence in matters of governmental and parliamentary activities, election observation, and advocacy for reforms, which operates throughout Ukraine. Partnership with local actors would ensure the necessary security protocols are followed. The Open European Dialogue could coordinate the recruitment of a diverse group across European parliaments.
What could it do?
- Raise awareness of the situation on the ground
- Create a cross-European cohort of committed MPs who can continue working together to support Ukraine
- Keep political momentum on the war in Ukraine high
Parliamentarians across the board were very vocal about the importance of these visits and see the value in potentially including parliamentarians from different countries in these missions, to gain insights into the perspectives of other partner EU countries while engaging in conversation with Ukrainian counterparts and civil society actors.
“I would strongly underline that the personal understanding that is gained thanks to these missions, meeting directly with people in the destroyed areas, is crucially important.”
– Member of the Austrian Parliament
“The idea that we could cooperate with other countries through the activation of cross-border missions is very valuable.”
– Member of the Estonian Parliament
Supporting further parliamentary action. The Open European Dialogue network remains open to assist its members in advancing further parliamentary action and cross-border collaboration on the ongoing war in Ukraine.
“Every time we get together to talk about Ukraine, we are keeping up the momentum and attention on this important work.”
– Member of the French Parliament
“Thank you for the help that you are providing to assist us in collaborating, the best way forward for us is to try to work on concrete initiatives, so the approach we are trying today with the OED Lab is important, although very ambitious.”
– Member of the Italian Parliament
“Thank you for thinking of us, for helping us, and for making this victory possible. Every little piece of support counts, I will gladly keep participating in the initiatives of the OED.”
– Member of the Ukrainian Parliament
SPOTLIGHT RESOURCE: CITIZEN OPINIONS ON UKRAINE
Our partners at Bertelsmann Stiftung collect and analyse the evolution of European public opinions on current political issues and megatrends through their citizen polling initiative eupinions.
Will support for Ukraine endure? How has it evolved over the past months? Find out in their latest report “Monitoring Europeans’ Support for Ukraine and Ukrainians” (March 2023)
For more details feel free to contact Isabell Hoffmann, Founder and Co-author of eupinions, at email@example.com