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Thursday, 19 September 2013

Caricatures: What EU Integration Means For Ukraine

Caricatures: What EU Integration Means For Ukraine:

""Europe's best side" -- that's what the Institute of World Politics in Ukraine called its latest campaign on Ukraine's European integration. It implies that Ukraine has always been part of Europe but that there is a better side of Europe: the European Union. And the closer Ukraine is to the EU, the more opportunities it will have to develop, the campaign proclaims. The institute came up with a booklet of cartoons that depict two realities -- the Ukrainian and the European reality. The cartoonists aimed to demonstrate why Ukraine is still not the "best side" of Europe. They want Ukrainians to stop blaming others for their country's failures, to change their mindsets, and to learn about the best things the EU has to offer. (By Maryna Turovska, Kostyantyn Kazanchev, Ihor Bezhuk, and Oleksiy Kustovsky)

Doing business. Ukraine ranked 137th in the 2013 World Bank survey of countries with simple business rules. Neighboring Slovakia was ranked 46th. State offices like the tax authorities or fire inspectors are the most common barriers that small business have to overcome when registering their firms. Also, businesses are reluctant to invest in a country that lacks independent courts.

Absolute hierarchy. Bosses in Ukraine consider themselves a tsar, and their employees as slaves. But in many firms in Europe, especially in the Scandinavian countries, the boss is just a senior partner whom you call by his/her first name.

Level of trust. In Ukraine, as in other former Soviet republics, people often trust only their closest circles -- usually relatives or best friends. People are constantly worried they will be cheated. The level of trust among people is related to the overall quality of life. Generally, the poorer the living conditions the less people trust each other.

Do police protect the people? In Ukraine there are 780 police officers for every 100,000 citizens. It is more police per capita than in any EU country, as Poland has 264 per 100,000 and Germany 301. But the high number of police does not guarantee a higher level of protection for Ukrainians. Only 29 percent of Ukrainians trust the police; 80 percent do not believe Ukraine's police are honest or impartial. In Austria, Germany, and Finland the level of trust in police is more than 85 percent.

The divide between VIPs and non-VIPs. Soviet "egalitarianism" led to an unhealthy desire among modern Ukrainians to show off their wealth. The "VIP" sign became very popular for taxi services, concerts, and stadiums, it even appeared on some tickets for the zoo.

Women's rights. Ukrainian women find it hard to get senior managerial positions in companies. Ukraine also has far fewer women in parliament than other European countries. More than one-third of the members of the European Parliament are women. In Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada only 10 percent of the members are women.

Intolerance. Only 5 percent of Ukrainians are ready to protest against discrimination (according to a KIIS survey in 2011). Just 36 percent of Ukrainians say they would vote for a presidential candidate who is Jewish and 18 percent for a black candidate.

Life expectancy. In the EU it is 77 years for men and 83 for women while in Ukraine it is 68 and 72 years, for men and women, respectively.

Life expectancy. The average person in the European Union lives 10 years longer than the average Ukrainian and 13 years longer than the average Russian.

Pension plans. The European Union is a world leader in providing social security for its citizens. Such expenditures constitute 30 percent of the EU's GDP. In Ukraine they total only 8 percent. It is especially noticeable when comparing pensions: in the United Kingdom a pension is 760 euros while in Ukraine it is the equivalent of 137 euros.

Health care. Only 18 percent of Ukrainians are satisfied with the level of their medical services. This is one of the lowest rates in the world, according to a 2012 Gallup survey. In this regard, Ukraine can compete only with Yemen, where 19 percent of those surveyed were happy with their health care. In Britain, Germany, and Sweden more the 90 percent of the population expressed satisfaction with their doctors and hospitals.

Clean water. Only 42 percent of Ukrainians are satisfied with the quality of their drinking water. In many EU states, tap water is as good or better than water sold in bottles. EU standards for drinking water are some 28 percent higher than in Ukraine.

Going green. It's very difficult to protect forests in Ukraine from illegal cutting, compared to the EU, where forests have greater protection. Moreover, because of the climate, only 15.7 percent of Ukrainian territory is covered by forests, while EU territory is about 42 percent forested.

Sports mean better health. In EU countries, sports clubs are ubiquitous, even in small towns. But some 66 percent of Ukrainians say they are uninterested in physical activity.

Fear of innovation and reform. Many Ukrainians are afraid of change, a fear that goes back to Soviet times during the years of collectivization and industrialization. This fear was reinforced by many of the failed economic reforms of the 1990s.

In 2012 only 3 percent of Ukrainians said they trust the courts. Ukraine is the fifth biggest justice seeker at the European Court of Human Rights, with 10,400 claims submitted by Ukrainians last year.

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