This CIVEX opinion embodies the CoR political message aiming to:
1) respond to the European Commission's Communication on "Ukraine relief and reconstruction", published in 18 May 2022. The Communication sets out plans for the EU's immediate response to address Ukraine's financing gap, as well as the longer-term reconstruction framework;
2) support the political messages and activities of the Alliance of cities and regions for the Reconstruction of Ukraine, launched on 30 June 2022;
3) feed into the agenda of the Czech Presidency of the EU, which addressed the CoR with a referral on the same topic.
The content of the opinion was communicated to the European Commission via high-level meetings of the CoR President, as well as the rapporteur himself; it was featured at the political level meeting of the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for the Reconstruction of Ukraine on 29 November 2022; and it fed into the working level debates of the said Alliance. Its conclusions were also explicitely mentioned in the debates of the Joint Workshop on "Strengthening the Role of Local and Regional Governments in Ukraine's Recovery and Reconstruction Process, and on the Road to EU Membership" that took place on 25 May 2023 in the CoR premises, bridging Lugano and London annual URC's.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- stresses that the reconstruction process must follow a bottom-up approach, involving Ukrainian and EU local and regional authorities, and build on Ukraine's decentralisation reform, which was already well advanced before 24 February 2022. The CoR points in this context to the recommendations of the study on "Challenges and opportunities of LRAs' involvement in the reconstruction of Ukraine" released in September 2022;
- points out that the CoR could launch actions, including within the framework of a joint consultative committee, aimed at preparing, in particular, approximation with the EU cohesion policy acquis, and to support capacity-building and good governance through peer learning and the exchange of good practices;
- considers that the European Commission's plans to establish a Ukraine Reconstruction Platform, coordinating all donor funding for the reconstruction of Ukraine, as pivotal to that effect provided that the Platform fully integrates the partnership principle and involves the Alliance of cities and regions for reconstruction of Ukraine as a full-fledged partner at all stages of its planning and implementation phases;
- concurs with the view that the process of rebuilding Ukraine should be differentiated both in terms of timeline, security risk and regional exposure to the war and specific cohesion challenges;
- considers that, in view of the launched EU accession process of Ukraine and in order to legitimize a strong coordination role for the EU in the reconstruction strategy, the European Commission should propose a substantial Ukraine Reconstruction Facility, which may be constructed on the same legal basis as the EU's Recovery and Resilience Facility with repayment starting from 2027 onwards. This Facility should enable the EU to pre-finance a significant share (40%) of the costs of reconstruction and recovery in Ukraine.