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Alliance of regions and cities sets out recommendations for Ukraine's reconstruction  

Declaration at European Summit of Regions and Cities now in hands of German and Ukrainian governments, ahead of major gathering of strategic supporters of Ukraine in June.

The European Alliance of Cities and Regions for the Reconstruction of Ukraine on 19 March called for a decentralised approach to Ukraine's reconstruction and recovery, with Ukraine's regional and local authorities being given "intensive" support to enable them to play a "meaningful" role in the process.

The set of recommendations, which was drafted together by EU and Ukrainians regions and cities and their associations as well as by the Congress of Council of Europe was presented at the European Summit of Regions and Cities in Mons, Belgium, to Ukraine's deputy minister for communities, territories and infrastructure, Oleksandra Azarkhina, and to Georg Milbradt, Germany's special envoy to Ukraine for decentralisation, representing Svenja Schulze, Germany's minister for economic Cooperation and development. Germany will in June host the now-annual Ukraine Recovery Conference (URC), at which the EU, G7 countries and other supporters of Ukraine coordinate their financial and practical support for Ukraine's reconstruction.

The 17 recommendations by the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for the Reconstruction of Ukraine comes 20 days after the EU finalised a four-year package of financial and technical support for Ukraine, the Ukraine Facility, which the EU says should support decentralisation and local development and give an important role to local authorities in Ukraine's recovery, reconstruction and modernisation.

The Alliance's set of recommendations– presented by Vasco Alves Cordeiro, President of the European Committee of the Regions – calls on the Ukrainian government to continue to strengthen local self-government and emphasises the need for a clearer roadmap back to the decentralisation process interrupted by Russia's all-out attempt to conquer Ukraine in 2022. It also urges the Ukrainian government to provide a clearer definition of the powers, tasks, responsibilities and resources of local and regional governments, noting that they will need to be systematically involved in development, programming and implementation of recovery policies.

The declaration calls for decentralisation in line with the European Charter of Local Self-Government, regional development aligned with the principles of the EU's regional policy, and for support for the development of partnerships between European and Ukrainian cities and regions. The result, the Alliance says, should be a "green reconstruction" of Ukraine.

Communities most affected by the war should receive priority financial support and be actively helped to join programmes and to develop international partnerships. The reintegration of veterans and people displaced by the war as well as the de-mining and revitalisation of Ukraine's economically vital rural areas are two other specific priorities highlighted by the Alliance.

The German government is committed to use the URC, which will start in 80 days' time, to generate extra momentum to support Ukraine's reconstruction, and has emphasised that restoring or reviving destroyed or damaged neighbourhoods in Ukraine will be possible only through strong municipalities with support from the regional and national levels.

Speaking online at European Summit of Regions and Cities, Deputy Prime Minister Kubrakov said that Ukraine is following an approach that will develop " a secret weapon that is only possible in democratic states – that is a strong civil society and effective local self-government", by completing decentralisation reform, "strengthening the role of communities in recovery and restoration" and pursuing a "proper reboot" of Ukrainian regional policy, "based on a bottom-up, data-driven approach".

One session of the European Summit of Regions and Cities was dedicated to Ukraine's reconstruction and recovery, moderated by Dario Nardella, Mayor of Florence and the CoR's rapporteur on the Ukraine Facility. Other speakers included: Svenja Schulze, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development (video message); Olivér Várhelyi, European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement (video message); Marc Cools, President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe; Olena Shuliak, chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada's Committee on the Organisation of State Power, Local Self-Government, Regional Development and Urban Planning; Vitaly Klitschko, Mayor of Kviv and President of the Association of Ukrainian Cities (remote participation); Oleksiy Kuleba, executive secretary of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Ukraine (remote participation); Viola Von Cramon-Taubadel, Member of the European Parliament. A delegation of nearly 30 other regional and local politicians from Ukraine also participated in the summit.

Quotes:

  • Vasco Alves Cordeiro, President of the European Committee of the Regions: " The European Committee of the Regions will stand with Ukraine, whatever it takes and as long as it takes. I am proud today that all the EU and Ukrainian associations of local and regional authorities, partners of the Alliance of Cities and Regions for the Reconstruction of Ukraine, led by the European Committee of the Regions, came together to share their recommendations to the Ukrainian and German governments in view of the Ukraine Recovery Conference. It is key to combine the reconstruction of Ukraine with a strengthening of local democracy and local and regional capacity, especially in view of EU accession."
  • Oleksandr Kubrakov, Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine for the Restoration of Ukraine: " Ukraine possesses a secret weapon that is only possible in democratic states -- that is a strong civil society and effective local self-government. Even during a full-scale war, we have continued the decentralisation reform. We have three key directions of our work. First is the completion of decentralisation reform. The second direction is strengthening the role of communities in recovery and restoration. The third direction is strengthening regional development, to align regional priorities with the Ukraine Plan, and to adapt Ukrainian regional development strategy to the realities of the war and to start adapting it to the instruments of the European Union. With the support of the Ukraine Facility, Ukrainian regional policy has a chance for a proper reboot, based on a bottom-up, data-driven approach."
  • Svenja Schulze, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development (video message): " During Russia's war of aggression, Ukraine and its people have continuously shown their strength and resilience. Germany will stand by our Ukrainian neighbours in rebuilding what has been destroyed by the war and in building it back better. Therefore, Germany and Ukraine are jointly hosting this year's Ukraine Recovery Conference in Berlin on 11 and 12 June. Our joint goal is to mobilize a broad alliance of communities that will empower Ukraine to shoulder the weight of reconstruction. Municipalities bear a large part of the burden when it comes to dealing with the destruction of civilian infrastructure and housing."

More information:

  • Recommendations to the Ukraine Recovery Conference 2024 for a decentralised recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine: Full text of the declaration by the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for the Reconstruction of Ukraine in English, Ukrainian, German, and French.
  • Mons summit panel on Ukraine: ' Ensuring a decentralised reconstruction process for Ukraine', video on demand.
  • European Alliance of Cities and Regions for the Reconstruction of Ukraine: webpage.
  • Ukraine Facility: FAQ and final text.
  • Ukraine Recovery Conference: website of 2024 URC.
  • Mons summit: Website with programme, partners, and media support.

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