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EU Accession Projects in Croatia, Moldova & Armenia 2011 - 2014

Posted by: David Woollard

Since 2011, I have contributed to a number of European Union Accession projects for the Croatian, Moldovan and Armenian Governments, as an associate of NI-CO and the Danish Patent & Trademark Office.  These projects have been concerned with Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA), the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights and Consumer-Protection and Market Surveillance.  I've done this by providing an influencing, training, facilitation and coaching skills programme (ITFC), together with a change-management programme. 

The ITFC programme started out life as a tradtional "train-the-trainer" (TTT), but it soon become apparent that this was too narrow a brief.  Anyway, I thought that an ITFC programme sounded much better (sorry, I know, any opportunity to mention ITFC).  Designing and especially delivering these programmes in foreign countries, via interpreters, has been one the most interesting and challenging, but ultimately enjoyable, things that I have done professionally.

St Mark's Church, Zagreb

This is a photo of St Mark's Church, St Mark's Square, Zagreb.  This square is the Croatian equivalent of Downing Street.  The Project Office was in the building in the back left-hand corner, whilst the Croatian Parliament is in the building in the back right-hand corner.  This, believe it or not, is where we carried out the Croatian RIA ITFC!

Why do you mention this now David, I hear you ask?  Well, for a few different reasons.  Firstly, in relation to the current debate in the UK about whether or not the UK should stay in the EU; some of my experiences in Croatia reminded me of the fundamental raison d'etre for the creation of the EU in the first place - "to promote peace and security within Europe".  Having met people who experienced the horrors of the war that took place there in the early 1990s, I feel that the UK has a responsibility to stay within the EU and work for continued peace.  As we have seen recently in the Ukraine, this is not a given.  I am also of the view that the UK's economic interests are best served by remaining within the EU.

I remain concerned for what might happen in Eastern Europe more generally, especially in Moldova.  This is somewhere else I've spent a bit of time.  I have a bit of a soft-spot for the Moldovans, as they are the poorest country in Europe, significantly more so these days even than Albania it would appear.  This is partially due to the Russians still being able to exert significant economic pressure, e.g. via gas supplies and their periodic refusal to buy Moldovan wine and agricultural products, as a consequence of Moldova seeking to ultimately join the EU.  They have an election scheduled for the end of this month and it appears it is by no means guaranteed that the pro-Western/EU coalition will be re-elecetd.  Additionally, there is the unresolved issue of the Transnistria region.  This region is effectively a Russian protectorate, similar these days to Crimea and other regions of eastern Ukraine. 

In summary then, keep your eye on the news in early December for events in Moldova.  I have to say that I'm relieved to be in the UK at the moment, not there, as I suspect it could kick-off big style.  In my view, this is the type of european issue that we should be concerned about.

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