The rapid response from cities and regions across Europe to shelter refugees and provide emergency support to their Ukrainian counterparts has been a prime example of local level cooperation.
Meanwhile, local level plans are already underway to coordinate the recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine through peer-to-peer actions, such as building schools and hospitals.
At EU level, as part of the planned Ukraine reconstruction platform, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, asked the European Committee of the Regions to support reconstruction by coordinating peer-to-peer activities.
With that in mind, the Committee launched the ‘European Alliance of Cities and Regions for the reconstruction of Ukraine’ this week bringing together European and Ukrainian networks of local and regional authorities, such as Eurocities, to:
- coordinate joint efforts, with European Union cities and regions ready to deploy resources to support an effective and sustainable reconstruction of Ukraine;
- further facilitate the contacts and cooperation of its core partners with the EU institutions and within the Ukraine reconstruction platform, as well as between EU and Ukrainian local and regional authorities and associations;
- provide information and feedback to EU institutions and the Ukraine reconstruction platform, and foster the political dialogue with the local and regional level accompanying the reconstruction efforts;
- facilitate providing expertise in capacity building, good governance, and technical assistance to cities and regions in Ukraine.
Members of the new Alliance are calling for a sustainable reconstruction, as well as the right tools and mechanisms to allow European municipalities and regions to help their Ukrainian counterparts, and recognition as key partners in the Ukraine reconstruction platform.
Speaking about these developments, 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.”
Oleksiy Chernyshov, Ukraine’s Minister for Communities and Territories Development, told attendees at the launch event – held in a plenary session of the Committee of the Regions and attended by the leaders of European territorial associations – that estimates of the damage suffered by Ukraine currently run to €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 new 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 Ukraine into a European country.”
Vitaly Klitschko, Mayor of Kyiv, and President of the Association of Ukrainian Cities, said that Ukraine is “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. Sharing a video that showed the nature and scale of the damage – over 50% of the town has been 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.