Statement by the President of the European Committee of the Regions, Apostolos Tzitzikostas.
The European Committee of the Regions welcomes the European Union’s pledge today to help Ukraine rebuild its cities, villages and infrastructure. As the voice of regions and municipalities within the EU and given our long-standing cooperation with our Ukrainian partners, our Committee is ready to firmly engage in the reconstruction process. We consider that the direct involvement of EU and Ukrainian local authorities must be the building block of the reconstruction.
We stand ready to launch an Alliance to provide Ukraine’s regional and local authorities with the practical support that they will need over the coming years to rebuild Ukraine in Europe.
The European Union has made clear that it will help Ukraine build back
every building that Russia knocks down. This is an enormous task – and a
task that goes beyond buildings. As stressed by
Mayor of Kiev, President of the Association of Ukrainian Cities, and
honorary member of our Committee, Ukraine's cities and regions, as well as
local and regional authorities of the EU, must be at the centre of this
process, which must help to rebuild from the bottom-up in the spirit of the
decentralisation reform achieved over recent years in Ukraine.
President Zelenskyy’s and President Michel's call on the CoR to establish
partnerships between Ukrainian and EU cities and regions is a historic
challenge to the one million local and regional politicians in our Union.
It comes at a turning point in the history of our Union and our continent.
The reconstruction that will follow this war – and is beginning, even
before the conflict ends – will, we are sure, express the sense of
community, shared history and common endeavour that Ukrainians have
demonstrated so inspiringly in their resistance to this war of aggression.
Our task – as leaders of the EU’s cities and regions – will be to help
Ukrainians and their leaders draw on the international experience that they
believe will help their communities and country in the next stage of its
proud history as a sovereign nation.
In helping Ukraine, EU cities and regions will be guided too by the
principles of the New European Bauhaus, which encourages the discovery of
beautiful, sustainable and inclusive solutions for our living spaces, and
by the objectives of the European Green Deal, to reduce the environmental
imprint of our lifestyles.
Region-to-region and city-to-city partnerships have a proud history in
Europe, and the cultural ties forged by the city twinning movement helped
to heal the wounds of the Second World War. The EU has brought new forms of
cooperation, through its regional-development policy and examples such as
the Global Covenant of Mayors.
The European Committee of the Regions, through the coordination of its
Working Group on Ukraine
chaired by the Mayor of Gdańsk, Aleksandra Dulkiewicz, will urge local and
regional leaders to build on that legacy. New thinking, targeted expertise,
and long-term commitment will be necessary. This will stretch the
collective capacity of the EU’s cities and regions, and it will only be
viable with the support of the EU Member States, the European Commission,
the European Investment Bank and international donors.
"For every ruined city, there could be a twin city in Europe," the Mayor of
Mariupol, Vadym Boychenko, said at our last plenary session, in April. That
must be our aim.