In May 2022, the platform “RebuildUkraine,” developed for the reconstruction of Ukraine, was announced by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.
As civil society organisations, we applaud the formation of ‘RebuildUkraine.’ However, we are concerned about the absence of any mention of the role of Ukrainian and European civil societies. As a result, Civil Society Europe and the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) took the initiative to urge the European Commission to guarantee that European civil society organisations, networks, and trade unions, as well as Ukrainian civil society and municipalities, have a clear role and function within the governance of ‘RebuildUkraine,’ including meaningful consultations and official observer status in all deliberations. This has elicited positive responses and the backing of 160 civil society organisations from across Europe.
European civil society has been standing and continues to stand in solidarity with Ukraine and its people in the face of Russian aggression and the horrendous war. Civil society across the EU welcomes the agreement to grant Ukraine the status of candidate country for accession to the EU. European civil society organisations are ready to work with their members, partners and friends in Ukrainian civil society to reconstruct the country, to strengthen civil society and to ensure a strong, resilient, equitable and sustainable Ukraine.
Civil society organisations in Ukraine have been playing a crucial role since the start of the full-scale Russian invasion and escalation in February 2022. They have been central in providing humanitarian and medical assistance, helping those fleeing the country, documenting atrocities and war crimes, reporting environmental and cultural heritage destruction as well as organising the spread of independent information and access to vital services. They have been strongly active in providing support to fulfil the current needs and will be implementing some of the reconstruction measures on the ground which are being adopted. The expertise that Ukrainian civil society organisations possess and have gathered on the ground is fundamental to the success of the measures. Local and national CSO in Ukraine must be given a leading role in the efforts to build peace, to provide humanitarian assistance and in reconstructing their country.
As civil society, we also want to make sure that reconstruction funds will be made conditional on reforms in line with Ukraine’s accession to EU membership, in line with the most recent European policies and standards, including all of the European Green Deal policies, strategies and initiatives. The support for the recovery of Ukraine’s economy must promote a sustainable and inclusive economy contributing to the green transition of the country and its path towards good governance and the respect of the rule of law and human rights. Ukrainian civil society has been calling for the reconstruction of its country to be based on the principles of sustainable development.
You can find our detailed statement laying out our ideas for meaningful civil society engagement in ‘RebuildUkraine’ which was sent out to the European Commission and members of the Cabinet here.