Building Ukraine back better
September 25, 2023
By Teresa Czerwińska
EIB Vice-President responsible for Ukraine
IMAGE: Caroline Martin
Every day since 24 February 2022, Russian aggression has continued to devastate Ukraine. Each new attack brings fresh destruction and strikes a further blow to the country’s economy. And yet, even as they struggle, Ukrainians are holding their ground. Services are being delivered and people are going to work.
Rebuilding what Russian bombs have obliterated in seconds will take time and vast resources. But, just as the determination of the Ukrainian people remains unshakeable, so should international support for their cause.
One thing all can agree on is that Ukraine’s recovery cannot wait: the international community must not fail to invest in it, here and now. Without investment, the ultimate price to pay would be much higher. That price is not just financial, but also entails great humanitarian losses. This is why the international community came together in Lugano last year, and in London more recently: to unite our efforts to support the reconstruction of Ukraine.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) plays an active role in Ukraine’s recovery and reconstruction.
Since its cooperation with Ukraine began in 2007, the EIB has supported transport; micro, small and medium businesses; urban development; and energy.
In 2014, we stepped in to finance the restoration of damaged civilian infrastructure and disrupted public services. These had been the victims of military action that culminated in the illegal annexation of Crimea and occupation of parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Following the full-scale invasion in February 2022, the EIB, with the support of the European Commission, was the first to disburse significant payments to Ukraine. Today, this funding has reached €1.7 billion, and has been used to finance the critical infrastructure needed to keep the country going. We have also approved €4 billion in solidarity loans to Member States supporting Ukrainian refugees, which have gone to assist Poland, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and other countries.
In close coordination with the Ukrainian government and other international financial institutions, we are financing projects in fundamental sectors of the economy, including energy, roads and railways. These areas are also crucial to Ukraine’s swift integration with the European Union, and they shape the foundations of the country’s private sector.
With our financing, delivered thanks to excellent cooperation with the Ukrainian government, the European Commission and our shareholders, many schools, hospitals and social housing units have been rebuilt since 2014. Many more destroyed by the full-scale invasion will be rebuilt.
We have also supported local small businesses via Ukrainian banks under the “Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) Facility”. In June this year, together with the European Commission, we launched the second phase of this programme — “the EU4Business Guarantee Facility”. The new facility is expected to unlock €375 million in lending in Ukraine and an additional €125 million in Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
These resources target urgent investment needs, complementing broad-based EU assistance. Our funding will have a real impact on the ground: helping Ukraine to repair some of its most critically damaged infrastructure, resume the provision of municipal services — including for transport and vital infrastructure networks — and support cities as they restore basic functions and services for residents. As emphasised by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in London, it is of the essence that we move from vision to action.
The European Union for a resilient future for Ukraine
Infrastructure losses in Ukraine are estimated at over €400 billion for now. The EIB has made a commitment to remain by Ukraine’s side. We must mobilise the full range of our financial instruments and expertise to make investments where they are needed most — whether to rebuild homes and shelters, hospitals, energy infrastructure and roads, or to lend to small businesses, which are the lifeblood of the real economy.
To help restore the infrastructure required most urgently to assist Ukraine’s people, we created the EU for Ukraine (EU4U) Fund. As part of a larger EU for Ukraine initiative, this EIB fund scales up support for Ukraine’s most pressing infrastructure needs and help keep the economy going.
Initial pledges to the EU4U Fund total €383.3 million, and come from Belgium, France, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Spain and the Netherlands. In addition, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia and Greece have announced contributions to the fund, in amounts still to be finalised. The size of the EU4U Fund is also expected to grow with future commitments. Any EU Member State or organisation can contribute to it, and every contribution increases the scale of our support. Because together, we are stronger.
The EU4U Fund will enable the EIB to provide a steady stream of support for Ukraine, and will serve as a temporary bridge solution until longer-term EU measures become available. It will facilitate the deployment of both public and private sector projects, with the main focus on municipal infrastructure like schools and hospitals, transport networks, water and wastewater treatment facilities, and digital and cybersecurity capabilities, along with improved access to finance for Ukrainian entrepreneurs.
To support project planning and deployment, the EIB will provide €100 million of technical assistance designed to ensure a high standard of quality and smooth implementation, in line with the “build back better” principle.
The EU4U Fund will enable us to sustain and intensify our support for Ukraine as longer-term EU measures are gradually put into place. We will also be working with the European Commission to identify the best tools for such longer-term solutions.
Putting sustainability at the heart of recovery
We have not stopped our efforts amid the rage of war, nor will we slow them down. At the same time, the rush to rebuild Ukraine must not entail a retreat from sustainability.
The EIB is the EU climate bank. That means we hold responsibility for the inclusive, green and resilient growth of Ukraine. Whatever we do to build the country back, we do with the desire to build it back better — in line with green targets. That is why we focus on projects that create a greener future for Ukraine. For example, the more than 100 buildings we have rebuilt since 2014 (schools, hospitals, etc.) are green, and bring energy savings of up to 50%. In this era, we cannot afford to rebuild in any manner that is not green and sustainable.
In June of last year, Ukraine was granted EU candidate status, and is now on its way to adopting European sustainability principles, climate targets and legislation. Green recovery is crucial to the country’s path to European Union membership.
Ukraine’s reconstruction must be immediate, efficient, green and sustainable. We must do everything in our power to help the country rebuild in line with these criteria. And we can do it. Together.
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