The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, travelled to Kyiv today, accompanied by 15 Commissioners, for the first ever meeting between the College and the Ukrainian Government. The meeting takes place back to back with the EU-Ukraine summit, the first since the start of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and the granting of candidate status.
The meeting between the College and the government of Ukraine sends a strong signal of the EU’s unwavering commitment to stand by Ukraine for as long as it takes, including with a new €450 million assistance package for 2023 announced by President von der Leyen. This brings the total support made available so far to Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s war from the EU, its Member States and European financial institutions to around €50 billion. In addition to this, the Commission is working towards a €1 billion contribution to fast recovery.
President von der Leyen said: “With the visit of the College to Kyiv, the EU is sending today a very clear message to Ukraine and beyond about our collective strength and resolve in the face of Russia’s brutal aggression. We will continue supporting Ukraine for as long as it takes. And we will continue to impose a heavy price on Russia until it ceases its aggression. Ukraine can count on Europe to help rebuild a more resilient country, that progresses on its path to join the EU.”
On the eve of the EU-Ukraine Summit, the College to Government meeting in Kyiv co-chaired by President von der Leyen and Prime Minister Shmyhal, took stock of the EU’s ongoing support to Ukraine in different areas, including financial, humanitarian, energy, budget support, diplomatic outreach, as well as of the reform efforts by Ukraine to advance on its EU path, and outlined further steps to enhance sectorial cooperation in a number of areas. President von der Leyen also met President Zelensky to discuss key issues on the EU-Ukraine agenda.
Further relief support and preparing for reconstruction
Following the disbursement on 17 January of the first instalment of €3 billion of the up to €18 billion Macro-financial Assistance+ (MFA+) package for Ukraine in 2023, the Commission is announcing today a new support package worth €450 million, including €145 million in humanitarian assistance and €305 million in bilateral cooperation to support fast recovery of infrastructure, increase Ukraine’s resilience and support the reform process.
The Commission confirmed to the Ukrainian Government that the setting up of the Secretariat of the Multi-agency Donors Coordination Platform in Brussels is progressing well, including preparation for secondments from G7 countries and other partners. This announcement follows the first meeting on 26 January of the Steering Committee of the Donors’ Coordination Platform, agreed by the G7 leaders in December with the Ukrainian Government. The Coordination Platform will be key to help match needs and resources for Ukraine’s repair, recovery and reconstruction efforts. It will be co-chaired by the EU, Ukraine and the US and will be assisted in its work by the technical Secretariat, with a Brussels office hosted by the Commission, and a Kyiv office hosted by the government of Ukraine.
In the margins of the meeting, President von der Leyen and Prime minister Shmyhal concluded a Strategic Partnership on Biomethane, Hydrogen and Other Synthetic Gases. This Memorandum of Understanding will expand the ongoing energy cooperation between the EU and Ukraine to renewable gases such as biomethane, hydrogen and other synthetic and sustainably produced gases. It reaffirms both sides’ commitment to reduce dependency on fossil fuel imports, especially Russian gas, and work towards climate neutrality.
The College to Government meeting allowed for discussing Ukraine’s immediate needs on the ground, particularly in the energy sector, following the targeted shelling of vital energy infrastructure. The EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism, which Ukraine is expected to join this year, is facilitating the delivery of 2,400 additional generators, on top of the 3,000 already delivered since the beginning of the war. The Ukraine Energy Support Fund, established by the Energy Community, at the request of the European Commission has already reached over €157.5 million to cover the immediate needs in the energy sector. The EU has just signed an agreement to provide the remaining 15 million LED lightbulbs of the 35 million purchased for Ukraine, that have already started to be delivered.
Reforms and further sectoral cooperation to bring Ukraine closer to the EU
Discussions also focused on reform priorities and the steps necessary to help Ukraine further align its legislation to the EU acquis following the Commission’s analytical report, complementing the Commission’s Opinion on Ukraine’s EU membership application, published today.
The Commission remains committed to assisting Ukraine in further reaping the full potential of the Association Agreement, including its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA). In this context, the Priority Action Plan for 2023-2024 mapping the key areas for the implementation of the DCFTA will be the roadmap for enhancing Ukraine’s access to the internal market. The Commission has also announced a technical assistance package for ACAA (Agreement on Conformity and Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products).
To support Ukraine, the Commission has also put forward additional measures to facilitate trade, notably the suspension of import duties on Ukrainian exports and will now propose to extend such measures beyond June 2023. The establishment of Solidarity Lanes has also helped Ukraine export its goods and import what it needs, with more than 23 million tonnes of grain and related products already transported via these alternative routes.
In the area of roaming, the Commission welcomed the extension by six months of the voluntary measures by EU and Ukrainian operators for affordable or free calls between the EU and Ukraine. Thanks to this arrangement, around 4 million people fleeing the war have affordable connectivity as they seek shelter in the EU. The new arrangement now also covers calls to fixed line numbers in Ukraine as well as new types of operators. In parallel, a way forward has been agreed to include Ukraine in the EU’s ‘Roam Like at Home’ zone once it ensures full implementation of the EU acquis in this area.
The Commission also announced that Ukraine will join key EU programmes. Today, the Commission and Ukraine signed its association to the Single Market Programme (SMP). This agreement will provide Ukraine with support to businesses, facilitating access to markets, favourable business environment, sustainable growth and internationalization. It will allow Ukraine to benefit from specific calls under the programme for SMEs, as well as to participate in initiatives like the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs and the Enterprise Europe Network. It will also give the possibility to apply for funding to national statistics producers, for the production and dissemination of high-quality statistics to monitor the economic, social, environmental and territorial situation.
Discussions will start soon about Ukraine joining other key EU programmes such as Connecting Europe Facility, that can support Ukraine in connecting its energy, transport and digital infrastructure with the EU.
Ukraine’s association to Horizon Europe and the Euratom Research and Training Programme is a key instrument to preserve and nurture Ukraine’s research and innovation ecosystem. Today, the Commission announced it will open a new Horizon Europe Office in Kyiv by mid-2023. It will promote EU funding opportunities, offer technical support to Ukrainian researchers and innovators, and strengthen networks between Ukrainian and European institutions.
The College discussed with the Ukrainian government EU support to help Ukraine rebuild its cities in a high-quality, sustainable and inclusive way with the New European Bauhaus (NEB) community. In March, the NEB together with Ukrainian partners (Covenant of Mayors East, Ro3kvit, ReThink) will launch a capacity-building programme for Ukrainian municipalities to prepare the reconstruction. These and other NEB activities in Ukraine will be boosted through a new ‘Phoenix’ initiative. As immediate steps, it will develop and put at the disposal of Ukrainian cities cutting-edge expertise from the NEB community in affordable and sustainable reconstruction. It will also network Ukrainian cities with like-minded ones in the EU to exchange experiences on their way to climate neutrality and more energy efficiency. It will combine funding from the Horizon Europe Mission for Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities and from the LIFE Programme, with immediate mobilisation of at least €7 million for these preparatory actions.
Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine has inflicted horrific human pain and mass-scale destruction of towns and communities. The Union has immediately mobilised support to the Ukrainian government to keep its essential functions going, on top of the emergency and humanitarian assistance, and military aid provided to Ukraine.
The EU has been providing support and welcoming people fleeing the Russia’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine since the early days of the invasion. On 4 March 2022, the EU has triggered for the first time the Temporary Protection Directive, aiming to ensure that all those fleeing the war to the EU have their right to reside, access the housing, health care, education and jobs is guaranteed. To date, the EU has welcomed around 4 million people from Ukraine. The Commission has also established a Solidarity Platform and put forward the 10-Point Plan on Ukraine to coordinate efforts between Member States and EU agencies and to provide targeted support to welcome refugees fleeing Russian invasion. In October last year, the Commission has also launched the EU Talent Pool pilot initiative to help people fleeing the invasion to find a job in the EU.
To support Member States and regions welcoming people fleeing from Ukraine, the Commission has also created the Cohesion’s Action for Refugees in Europe (CARE). CARE introduced maximum flexibility into Cohesion Policy to allow Member States to use available 2014-2020 funds for measures supporting refugees in areas such as refurbishing and adapting reception centres or shelters, provide mobile hospitals, sanitation and water supply as well as helping people access education, training, employment, housing, health and childcare services.
Moreover, CARE allows Member States to quickly disburse funding through a simplified payment of €100 per person per week for up to 26 weeks to cover for immediate needs of refugees such as food, accommodation, clothing and transportation costs. CARE also included the possibility for the Fund for the Most Deprived to support basic material assistance like food and clothing.
Through these initiatives, up to €17 billion have been made available from the EU budget for Members States, which are hosting around 4 million people under temporary protection.
To date, with the support of the European Commission to the national education systems, close to 740,000 children and young people, who had to flee Ukraine, attend nursery or school in 26 EU countries, Switzerland, Norway and Liechtenstein. The Commission has allowed for maximum flexibility under the Erasmus+ programme for the integration of Ukrainian refugees, the promotion of European values, or the fight against disinformation and fake news.
The EU has also decided to suspend the cooperation programmes with Russia and Belarus and transfer €26.2 million initially envisaged for projects with these two countries to strengthen cooperation of Member States with Ukraine and Moldova. The EU also introduced changes to the legal framework of 15 cross-border and transnational cooperation programmes disrupted by the Russian invasion, to ensure that projects could continue to be implemented by Member States, including for refugee support.
Since the start of the war, the overall Team Europe assistance pledged to Ukraine by the European Union, EU Member States, and European financial institutions amounts to up around €50 billion. This includes:
- Over €30 billion in financial, budget support, emergency and humanitarian assistance from the EU budget, including up to €25.2 billion in Macro-Financial Assistance for 2022 and 2023.
- A total of €7.8 billion in bilateral financial and humanitarian assistance mobilised by the EU, together with the Member States;
- Over 82,000 tonnes of in-kind assistance with an estimated value of over €500 million delivered to Ukraine from EU Member States and partners via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism;
- Military assistance of €12 billion, of which €3.6 billion is being made available under the European Peace Facility.
Following the European Council decision to grant candidate status to Ukraine in June 2022, the Commission will report on the progress made by Ukraine to address the reform priorities identified in the Commission’s Opinion on its EU membership application as part of the next Enlargement package, expected to be published in Autumn 2023.