At the international expert conference on reconstruction, Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen assured Ukraine of long-term assistance: “One should be careful about making historical comparisons, but this amounts to no less than the creation of a new Marshall Plan for the 21st century. It is a task that will take generations and must begin now.”
Russia’s war against Ukraine, which was in violation of international law, had already caused many hundreds of billions of euros worth of damage, and the destruction was immeasurable, said Scholz, adding that reconstruction would take decades. As the Federal Chancellor stressed: “Ukraine is not alone in this war, however. It can rely on the support of the international community.”
EU Commission President von der Leyen described the reconstruction as a “colossal undertaking”. “We see President Putin targeting civilian infrastructure to paralyse Ukraine and terrorise its people,” she said. It was not possible to wait until the end of this horrific war before starting reconstruction, she said, it was important to look at what could be repaired right away, such as schools. In addition, she noted, Ukraine needed regular financial support to be able to pay teachers, doctors and pensions.
Planning reconstruction now
The global community has been providing support for Ukraine for several months. The G7 states, the European Union and its members have raised over 35 billion euros in emergency aid alone to date. The international community has imposed tough sanctions on Russia, supplied weapons to Ukraine and provided support for Ukraine’s economy, while millions of refugees have been taken in by several countries.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave a keynote speech at the reconstruction conference. “Ukraine and the EU are united and this will not change,” he stressed. Ukraine was defending its sovereignty and freedom, he said, and in doing so it was also standing up for European security.
In a speech broadcast live by video, Zelensky pointed out that Russian missile attacks had destroyed much infrastructure in Ukraine – including railway stations, schools, hospitals, power plants and more than a third of the energy infrastructure. Nonetheless, he said, with the help of Ukraine the EU would be able to find a substitute for Russian energy sources. And Ukraine would continue to contribute to food security in Europe and the world in future, he promised – even more so when safe operations were possible again.
At the summit in Schloss Elmau, a was issued in which the G7 agreed that, despite the ongoing war, reconstruction of Ukraine must be planned now in order to be ready for the task in the long term. For this reason, Federal Chancellor Scholz hosted an expert conference in Berlin on 25 October, together with the President of the European Commission and in close coordination with the Ukrainian government.
Creating the basis for a donor platform
Together with G7 partners and the EU and with the support of international organisations as well as Ukraine itself, a basis is to be created for an inclusive and transparent donor platform through which the reconstruction process is to be coordinated, the Federal Chancellor explained. “Last but not least, we’re also laying the foundations for the economy to take off again, for revenues to flow and for citizens to be able to go about their daily lives.”
Both public and private sectors are called upon
The conference was attended by experts, international organisations, think-tanks and scientists as well as representatives of civil society and the private sector. Together they contributed to the ongoing discussion on the reconstruction of Ukraine and provided expert recommendations for the way forward – these will be taken into account when decisions are made on the provision of assistance to Ukraine.
“When we talk about mobilising funds to finance reconstruction, for example, I believe that it will require a sustained and coordinated effort involving strong local ownership and participation on the part of Ukraine,” said Federal Chancellor Scholz. Both the public and private sectors of all international partners were needed, added Scholz, as well as the international financial institutions and development banks.
The conference focused on the question of how to ensure sustainable, transformative and inclusive reconstruction of Ukraine. The experts discussed these issues in five – ranging from lessons learned from previous programmes and a stock-taking of Ukraine’s reconstruction needs and their financing through to the framework conditions required for institutional change and the country’s economic stability.
Reconstruction in the interests of Europe
“Reconstruction will be an enormous task. We will have to invest a lot to make it work. Ukraine cannot manage it alone. The European Union cannot manage it alone either. It can only be achieved by the entire global community, which is now lending its support to Ukraine,” the Federal Chancellor said. Germany would continue to provide support for Ukraine in close coordination with its partners, he added – during the period of the G7 Presidency and beyond.
Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen agreed: “Providing support for Ukraine is not just the right thing to do, it’s very much in our own interests, too.” Ukraine was not only fighting for its own sovereignty and territorial integrity, they said, the country was also defending the international rules-based order – in other words the basis for peaceful coexistence throughout the world.
Ukraine has been an EU accession candidate since this summer. Reconstruction will prepare the country for membership of the European Union. This means that support for Ukraine will not only determine what sort of country it will be in the future. It is also key to the future of a common Europe.
At the conference, Scholz once again addressed clear words to Russian President Vladimir Putin, too: “Stop this war! Stop this senseless killing! Withdraw your troops completely from Ukraine!”
The International Expert Conference on the Recovery, Reconstruction and Modernisation of Ukraine took place at the Westhafen Event & Convention Center Berlin. It was organised under the German G7 Presidency together with the EU Commission. The keynote speech was given by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.