European Law Monitor

Make your voice heard!

newsA Marshall plan for Ukraine: G7 Presidency and European Commission to invite experts to a conference on the reconstruction of the war-torn country

Joint op-ed on Ukraine Reconstruction Conference by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen

The courage shown by Ukrainians since Russia invaded their country is impressive. Their resilience and steadfastness in the face of this violation of international law are equally impressive. Ultimately, it is because of the courage shown by Ukraine that we will be gathering together on 25 October in Berlin, where we intend to discuss with experts how the international community can best help and support Ukraine with reconstruction. 

The shape which that reconstruction takes will determine what kind of country Ukraine will be in the future. Will it be a state based on the rule of law with strong institutions? Will it have a dynamic and modern economy? Will it be a vibrant democracy which is part of Europe? Although we should always be careful when making historical comparisons, what is at stake here is nothing less than the creation of a new Marshall plan for the 21st century. This task will take generations and it must start now.

What can we and our Ukrainian partners learn from past experience of reconstruction? How can such a huge, long-term project be organised and financed? What structures are needed in order to ensure the necessary transparency and the essential confidence of investors? These are some of the questions that we intend to discuss on Tuesday in Berlin with experts and representatives from Europe, the G7, the G20, international organisations, civil society and, above all, Ukraine. 

The suffering of the Ukrainians is immeasurable, the victims they mourn every day are numerous, and the impact of Putin's war on the lives of millions of Ukrainians is deep. What we as a community can do – and have done since the very first day of the war – is to actively and reliably support Ukraine. We have imposed harsh sanctions on Russia. We have supplied weapons, supported the Ukrainian economy and helped people in their everyday lives. We have facilitated access to our internal market for Ukrainian exports and suspended import duties.

And for the time being more than 8 million Ukrainians have found refuge and protection from Putin's bombs and missiles in Europe. Europe gave them immediate access to the labour market, to schools, medical care and housing. In the G7 and with partners in the G20, we have been fighting the global consequences of the war, including the worldwide hunger, energy and economic crises.

The international community has provided considerable financial support. G7 countries, the European Union and its members have so far provided more than 35 billion euro in emergency aid for Ukraine alone. This money is to help Ukraine meet its immediate financial needs, so that its administration can continue to function despite the war, and so that teachers, the police, doctors and soldiers can be paid and medical care can continue to be provided.

Besides this emergency aid, we need to start thinking today about the reconstruction of the country even though peace seems a long way off. We now need to start rebuilding ruined homes, schools, roads, bridges and infrastructure and restoring power supplies, so that the country can quickly get back on its feet again. For Ukraine needs the prospect of kick-starting its economy as soon as the war is over.

The key is to tackle this major undertaking together. There is agreement on this in the G7 and the European institutions. It is a huge task. The World Bank estimates the damage of the war so far at 350 billion euro. And the destruction goes on, as the most recent attacks in the last few days have shown. Neither Ukraine nor individual partners will be able to foot the bill alone. We must all lend a hand – the EU, the G7 and our partners far and wide. The international financial institutions and leading international organisations should of course be on board. In the long term, it will be important for private investors and companies to invest in Ukraine's reconstruction too.

The clearer and more transparent the use of the money, the greater will be the willingness to help. We will therefore make sure with our Ukrainian friends that the support reaches the places where it is most needed. Together with our G7 partners and other countries, with the support of international organisations and Ukraine, we intend to lay the foundations for an inclusive donor platform to coordinate the process of immediately restoring destroyed infrastructure and embarking on long-term reconstruction. The joint platform will be the main instrument for cooperation and coordination of European and international support. It is about driving major reconstruction projects and providing technical support. In doing so, we will set the highest standards for transparency, efficiency, auditing and project monitoring. 

The European Union has an important role to play here. Since the summer, Ukraine has had EU candidate status. So the road to reconstruction is at the same time Ukraine's path towards the European Union. This also means making the Ukrainian economy more sustainable and more digital, since that is the economy of the future. It means enforcing the highest rule-of-law standards and setting up effective anti-corruption authorities. Because these are the values which Europe stands for and which will also help gain the trust of investors and donors.

We all agree that supporting Ukraine is not only the right thing to do, it is also in our very own interest. Ukraine is fighting not only for its own sovereignty and territorial integrity, but against Putin's attempt to shift borders by force and inflict war and destruction on his neighbours. Ukraine is also defending the international rules-based order, the bedrock of our peaceful coexistence and of prosperity worldwide. So in supporting Ukraine, we are building our own future and the future of our common Europe.

Copyright European Union