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Committee of the Regions expresses outrage at attacks on Ukrainian cities and pledges long-term support for Ukraine's reconstruction  
​ EU's cities and regions set out ways they – and the EU – can contribute to Ukraine's reconstruction, while a new poll shows strong commitment to help Ukraine among local and regional politicians.

The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) has reiterated its full support for Ukraine in the face of a wave of deadly attacks that Russia launched on 10 October on civilian areas and infrastructures in cities across Ukraine. The statements from across the political spectrum came on at a plenary session in which the CoR adopted a wide-ranging set of recommendations intended to ensure that the regions and cities of the European Union can become effectively and deeply involved in the reconstruction of Ukraine. The Committee's opinion emphasises that there needs to be a "particular focus" on ensuring that the rebuilding process also accelerates Ukraine's transition to a greener and more sustainable economy.

The opinion on the role of EU cities and regions in rebuilding Ukraine will help shape the work of the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for the Reconstruction of Ukraine, created in June by the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and Ukrainian and European associations representing local and regional administrations. The Alliance itself was a response to a request by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The opinion's adoption on 11 October ensures that the recommendations of cities and regions have been crystallised in time for an international conference in Berlin devoted to Ukraine's reconstruction on 25 October and ahead of final decisions on the form of the European Commission's emerging platform to coordinate support for Ukraine's reconstruction. The opinion calls on the European Commission to propose a bottom-up reconstruction process in Ukraine building on the well-advanced decentralisation process of the country.

The rapporteur, Dario Nardella (IT/PES), mayor of Florence and also president of Eurocities, said: "We expect the Reconstruction Platform to be financed in a similar way as the EU's Recovery and Resilience Facility, demand that it involves the Alliance of cities and regions for the reconstruction of Ukraine as a full-fledged partner at all stages of its planning and implementation phases and aligns as much as possible with the methodology of EU regional policy, also in view of preparing Ukraine's accession to the European Union." He added that reconstruction of Ukraine's destroyed infrastructure should be underpinned by a focus on sustainability, democratic principles, and stable institutions.

The Alliance is drawing on a strong wellspring of support for Ukraine in the EU's cities and regions. In the 2022 Regional and Local Barometer – a survey of over 2,000 local and regional politicians across the EU, contained in the 2022 EU Annual Report on the State of Regions and Cities published by the CoR on 11 October – three-quarters of respondents said their local or regional authority had taken in Ukrainians displaced by the war, and half had sent material aid to Ukraine. One in two respondents said that the most effective way to rebuild Ukraine would be to involve EU regions and cities in the process.

The President of the European Committee of the Regions, Vasco Alves Cordeiro, said: "Homes, schools, universities, hospitals, all have been destroyed by Russia's war against Ukraine. In a couple of weeks, winter will condemn all these damaged buildings definitely to ruins, if nothing is done. The European Committee of the Regions, with its partner associations, launched a European Alliance of Cities and Regions for the reconstruction of Ukraine. We need this Alliance to grow and involve more cities and regions to effectively rebuild Ukraine, as one in every two respondents of our Regional and Local Barometer say that the most effective way to rebuild Ukraine is to involve EU regions and cities in the plans of reconstruction. We remain committed to transforming words into deeds and to pushing for a specific financial instrument to ensure LRA peer-to-peer reconstruction projects. We stand side by side with Ukraine."

President Cordeiro underlined, in response to the deadly attacks launched by Russia on 10 October, on behalf of the institution, his "strong condemnation of the atrocious targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructures across the country" and assured Ukrainian counterparts of the CoR's full solidarity with their fight for democracy and freedom.

How cities and regions can help Ukraine

A joint estimate by the government of Ukraine, the European Commission, and the World Bank suggested that the war had caused €349 billion in damage between 24 February and 1 June, with the impact being particularly high in the housing, transport, commerce and industry sectors. The destruction was concentrated in the regions of Chernihiv, Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Kyiv and Zaporizhia.

Recommendations included in the draft opinion on how to help Ukraine cover different phases, with a first stage focused on emergency response, a second dedicated to the restoration of critical infrastructure and services, and a third phase to pave the way for long-term sustainable growth. Longer-term support should particularly focus on reaching the objective set by the Ukrainian government to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 65% by 2030 and rebuilding social infrastructure – such as housing stock, schools, and hospitals – in order to give Ukrainian refugees and displaced people the possibility to return to their pre-war homes.

Ukraine's government has suggested that the EU's regions and cities could contribute on the basis of twinning partnerships with peers in Ukraine. The CoR's draft opinion also highlights the potential value of broader investment schemes to involve a larger group of cities and regions.

The opinion underscores the need to invest in building up the capacity of sub-national administrations as soon as possible, which have had to take on significantly more responsibilities in the past seven years and now face the challenge of reconstruction and preparing for EU accession. The opinion specifically calls for a reinforcement of an existing programme to support decentralisation in Ukraine, the U-LEAD programme.

Ukraine is already a member of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region and the opinion suggests that the strategy provides an integrated framework for cooperation with the EU. The recommendations go further, highlighting the value of using tried-and-tested EU mechanisms of supporting regions and cities, suggesting, for example, that the EU should move early to expand collaboration with Ukrainian regions, through transnational cooperation programme, and by accelerating Ukraine's access to Horizon and Culture programmes.

The recommendations drew in part on a study commissioned by the CoR in which researchers canvassed the views of local and regional politicians in areas of Ukraine that have suffered from varying levels of damage. Its conclusions note substantially improved administrative capacities at the local and regional level thanks to a decentralisation process that began in the mid-2010s, and also highlighted the potential for EU cities and regions to help capacity-building reforms, particularly in smaller communities.

Contacts:

Monica Tiberi , President's spokesperson, +32 479 51 74 43.

Andrew Gardner , press officer, +32 473 843 981.

Stephanie Paillet , audiovisual support, +32 473 522 988.


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