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Ukraine Calling-Project “From West to East” issues anticyclical migration movements

UkraineCalling-RomainLeQuiniou-190 ©Romain Le Quiniou
Logo-euro-créative-190x127 ©Euro Créative

It is the final spurt for the current edition of the Viadrina Programme Ukraine Calling: Transnational project ideas, that were submitted in autumn 2020, have been implemented and refined in the course of training workshops, networking events and knowledge exchange. One participant introduces his project.

Stimulating migratory movements from the West to the East of Europe to combat the increasing brain drain and emigration of young creatives – this is the main goal of the project “From West to East” by the French think tank “Euro Créative”. Romain le Quiniou, project manager and co-founder of Euro Créative, tells us in an interview what influence Ukraine Calling had on his project idea and implementation.

How did you come up with the project idea for “From West to East”?

The main objective of our newly established think tank Euro Créative is to increase knowledge and understanding about Central and Eastern Europe in France. Indeed, these countries are still suffering – more than three decades after the disappearance of the Iron Curtain – from many clichés. Migration issues are among those topics which are generally distorted. In Western Europe, people generally believe that people migrating from Eastern to Western Europe are benefitting from a great opportunity. Evidently, we cannot deny some advantages – at least financial ones. However, emigration also implies many challenges for their home-countries. One current and concrete example is the lack of medical employees in many Eastern European countries while fighting against Covid-19. Apart from the lack of workforce and brain drain phenomena, challenges are also linked to demographic or identity issues. Not to mention individual and familial distressing stories.

In this regard, Ukraine is a very interesting example. The country knows an important emigration but in the meantime is a country with great potential. However, it suffers from a bad reputation in Western Europe (war, corruption, poverty, etc.) despite development of innovative and interesting opportunities (IT sector, agriculture, infrastructure, etc.). For this reason, improvement of Ukraine's attractiveness towards Western European youth appears as a crucial factor for its current development as well as for its future European integration.

How has the project developed since the launch of Ukraine Calling and what are the next steps?

When I joined Ukraine Calling, our project idea was very vague. I knew I wanted to talk about West to East migration flows but I did not know which specific direction to take. Ukraine Callings’ intensive programme helped me a lot in this regard. We had two weeks of various workshops and events in which we had the great chance to discuss with different stakeholders. I received many comments, ideas, advice and suggestions which helped me to design our project idea in a more detailed and (I hope) effective way.

At the same time, it was really important for me to benefit from the various experiences of other people as I am relatively inexperienced regarding project implementation. It was very interesting especially to talk with people involved in civil society in order to learn from them. Some participants and speakers delivered really useful advice on how to design a fundraising or a dissemination strategy.

We plan to implement the project in the second part of 2021. At the moment, we are building our consortium around partners from France, Germany, Poland and Ukraine and we are discussing the fundraising with several institutions. 

Was it a challenge that Ukraine Calling took place exclusively online? 

There is no alternative choice at the moment. Whether we like or not, the share of online activities will rise. And let us be honest, it has some advantages. Opportunities to talk to people from all around the world are much easier now: I attended the 3 day cross-sectoral forum of Ukraine Calling – organized by Ukraine based think tank CEDOS – from my room in the South of France. 

Of course, we cannot avoid talking about the “zoom fatigue”. However, after almost a year of Covid-19, I personally got used to that. In my opinion, the most important problem of 100 percent online formats is when it comes to concrete networking. Of course, online formats allow us to meet a lot of people from any place in the world, but at the same time, in-depth discussions are almost impossible. We should not forget that civil society projects generally have a strong human dimension – not just in their implementation but also in their conception. As a consequence, finding a partner or establishing cooperation is much more difficult online. Fruitful collaboration can’t just be made through computers, you need informal discussions and real interactions with a coffee or even better with a German beer…