(Source: European Committee of the Regions)
Alliance will focus on reconstruction needs of Ukrainian cities and regions, as part of the EU’s and international community’s long-term support for Ukraine.
The European Committee of the Regions and associations representing European cities and regions on 30 June launched the European Alliance for Cities and Regions for the Reconstruction of Ukraine to help Ukraine’s local and regional authorities rebuild homes, schools, infrastructure and services destroyed by Russia since its invasion on 24 February. The Alliance, whose launch came just seven days after the EU’s member states agreed to accept Ukraine as a candidate member, was greeted by Ukraine’s Minister for Communities and Territories Development as a potential ” basis for the European integration of our country “.
The Alliance was created in response to a call in April by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine, and with the support of Charles Michel, President of the European Council, and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission. It will form part of the ‘Ukraine reconstruction platform’, currently being created by the Commission and by the Ukrainian government, to coordinate EU support. Plans will take further shape on 4-5 July, when Ukraine’s prime minister will present his government’s reconstruction strategy at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano, Switzerland.
The president of the European Committee of the Regions – Vasco Alves Cordeiro (PT/PES), member of the Regional Parliament of the Azores – said: “The Committee of the Regions stands side by side, shoulder to shoulder with our Ukrainian friends. Today, together with associations of cities and regions, we launch the European Alliance for Cities and Regions for the Reconstruction of Ukraine to respond to the urgency and build the future. We urge all EU cities and regions to join and demonstrate European solidarity with concrete actions.”
Oleksiy Chernyshov, Ukraine’s Minister for Communities and Territories Development, told the launch event – held in a plenary session of the CoR and attended by the leaders of European territorial associations – that estimates of the damage suffered by Ukraine currently run to $195 billion (€186 billion). Around 120,000 private houses have been destroyed or damaged, and 20,000 apartment blocks have been hit, with one-third of them totally destroyed. He welcomed the alliance, saying that “such partnerships can become a basis for the European integration of our country” and declaring that “we will make every effort to entirely transform Ukrainian into a European country”.
Vitaly Klitschko, Mayor of Kyiv, president of the Association of Ukrainian Cities and honorary member of the CoR, said that Ukraine “defending our right to be able to build a modern European country” and said that “we need to build a European country with European standards and that is why I thank everyone who tries to help Ukraine”.
The launch was attended in person by Oleksandr Markushyn, Mayor of Irpin, one of the towns worst damaged in the early weeks of the war. Showing a video that showed the nature and scale of the damage – over 50% of the town was destroyed – he suggested that the alliance could use Irpin as a pilot project for reconstruction efforts. The Portuguese town of Cascais has already pledged to help with the reconstruction of a kindergarten.
Dario Nardella, President of Eurocities and Mayor of Florence, said: “At city level, we have long developed relationships and networks, many of which have been strengthened over recent months as we have accepted refugees and sent aid. We are ready to respond quickly to people’s needs, and to plan for the future. By cooperating with many municipalities and regions through this alliance, we will help Ukrainian people get back on their feet.”
María del Valle Miguélez Santiago, Vice-President of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe (CPMR) and the member of the regional government of Murcia, said: “The destruction and blockade of ports in the Black and Azov seas is a global disaster. European ports are doing their best but struggling to help Ukrainian grain reach the world. With a looming food crisis, we should work together to help Ukraine’s coastal regions and their major port cities like Kherson, Mariupol, Mykolaiv and Odesa return to their central place in the world’s economy.”
Jean-Claude Marcourt, President of Conference of European Regional Legislative Assemblies (CALRE), said: “On the path towards Ukraine’s accession to the European project, the Ukrainian regions and cities will be able to count on the full support of CALRE, which will endeavour, in accordance with its founding declaration, to work for the defence of the principles and values of regional democracy in Europe.”
Magnus Berntsson, President of the Assembly of European Regions (AER), said: “The tremendous leadership of Ukraine’s regions in the face of war are an inspiration to all of Europe – and so too will be their recovery. The AER stands with our regional partners to support Ukraine on its road to a brighter future.”
Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR), said: “The cooperation between border regions across national boundaries has been central for European grassroots construction. As ‘laboratories of EU integration’, border regions will help contribute to accelerate Ukraine’s development and incorporation into the Union.”
The Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) is also a member of the alliance.
The European associations are, along with the CoR, core members of the alliance on the EU side, together with the Covenant of Mayors. The core Ukrainian members are the Association for Ukrainian Cities, the Ukrainian Association of District and Regional Councils, the Association of Rural and Village Councils of Ukraine, and All-Ukrainian Associations of Amalgamated Hromadas. The Alliance’s founding members hope to be joined by national local-government associations and individual regions and cities, as well as public and private institutions.
The incoming Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union plans to hold in October a major conference focused on Ukraine’s reconstruction needs, ahead of the launch of the Ukraine Reconstruction Platform planned for the end of 2022. Speaking at the CoR’s plenary on 29 June, Ivan Bartoš, Deputy Prime Minister for Digitisation and Minister of Regional Development, said that the reconstruction of Ukraine would be among the Czech Presidency’s priorities, stating: “The stability of Ukraine is crucial for the future.”
The launch is available for view on Europe by Satellite. For cutaways and interviews with Mayor Markushyn of Irpin, Councillor Irina Yarmalenko of Bucha, and with individual members of the CoR who attended the launch, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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- The Alliance is calling for Ukraine’s reconstruction to be built on the principles of: support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty; support for Ukraine’s European integration; the empowerment of local self-government; a reconstruction strategy built on integrated planning at the municipal and regional levels; the principles of the European Charter of Local Self-Government; the development and modernisation of the countryside; improving good governance; regional business development and innovation. The EU has identified a triple challenge of promoting resilience, recovery and reform in the areas of institutions, the economy, society, and the green and digital transformations.
- More information about the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for the Reconstruction of Ukraine can be found on the website of the CoR, together with information about other aspects of the CoR’s support for Ukraine. Since the war, Ukrainian mayors have spoken at every CoR plenary and at the expanded and emergency meetings of the CoR’s Working Group on 30 March and 23 May. On 27 June, the CoR held an expert consultation on the role of EU cities and regions in the reconstruction of Ukraine.
- The European Committee of the Regions plans on 12-13 October to adopt a set of recommendations on how to help Ukraine’s reconstruction. The rapporteur-general was on 23 June named as Dario Nardella (PES/IT), Mayor of Florence and President of Eurocities. Karl-Heinz Lambertz (BE/PES), President of the Association of European Border Regions, is a member of the CoR and was its president in 2017-20. Cees Loggen (NL/Renew Europe), President of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe, is a former member of the CoR.
- · Regions and cities represented in the European associations and in the European Committee of the Regions have been providing humanitarian support to Ukrainian refugees from the outset of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in Ukraine. The United Nations estimates that 5.2 million Ukrainians are currently registered as refugees. On 29 June, the European Commission announced that, to ease and accelerate the dispatch of funds to EU regions and cities hosting Ukrainian refugees, it would further increase the flexibility of an emergency-support instrument created in March, Cohesion’s Action for Refugees in Europe (CARE).
- Information about the extensive and varied support provided by European territorial associations can be found here on the websites of CALRE, CEMR, CPMR, Eurocities, AER, and AEBR . All of them were cooperating with local and regional administrations in Ukraine before the war.
- The CoR has been working with Ukrainian cities and regions since 2010 and in 2015 established a task-force to support Ukraine’s decentralisation reforms. The reforms are widely credited with contributing to Ukraine’s success in withstanding Russia’s invasion.
- The CoR highlighted the work of 13 Ukrainian local administrations during the war in a photo exhibition on the sidelines of the plenary. For photos, please contact: SupportUkraine@cor.europa.eu.