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[Check Against Delivery]
European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy
Making support for Ukraine more effective
High Level meeting on Ukraine: coordinating and implementing the international support
Brussels, 8 July 2014
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to welcome you all to our first high-level donors' coordination meeting following the signing of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union. The timing cannot be better and I cannot stress enough the importance of today’s meeting, especially in light of the worrying political and humanitarian situation that presents new challenges for Ukraine every day. That so many of us are gathered here today is clear proof of our collective commitment and shared determination.
It is my hope that this meeting will be a platform for a frank and constructive discussion of the key short and medium-term priorities for our closer collaboration with Ukraine. It should work towards the establishment of a coordination platform for international assistance. The meeting should also provide us with the opportunity to discuss donors’ intentions regarding the provision of additional funds and it should allow us to discuss the next steps towards a possible donor conference by the end of the year.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me express the European Union’s deep concern over the security and humanitarian situation in Ukraine. The European Union, including the Commission, will do whatever is necessary to promote dialogue and a return to peace and to help those who have been victims of violent confrontation. The European Union is committed to ensuring access for our humanitarian and civil protection experts to assist affected citizens. The European Commission has mobilised funds from its humanitarian budget to support the training of Red Cross volunteers and to provide first aid supplies, tents and blankets. Improved coordination and provision of adequate information on Internally Displaced Persons will help us to respond better to rising humanitarian needs.
A condition for sustainable stabilisation in Ukraine is to make progress on the reform agenda. I would like to reiterate the European Union’s strong support for reforms already undertaken in Ukraine and encourage the government to take further steps towards constitutional reform, decentralisation and judicial reform. We also need to see further action on the economy, trade and business and in the energy sector. Any further financial support from the European Union will be linked to and dependent on ongoing reform efforts.
Reforms are also necessary if Ukraine is to make the most of the recently signed Association Agreement including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area. I would like to congratulate President Poroshenko for all his efforts in this regard. A swift ratification of the Agreement by Ukraine will allow it to be provisionally applied immediately.
Reforms are necessary for Ukrainian operators to enjoy full access to the opportunities offered by the Single Market and for Ukraine to provide a business-friendly environment for investment from the European Union and beyond. Reforms will make the DCFTA a success.
As Ukraine continues on its reform path, it must include and involve as many sections of society as possible. There are many challenges ahead. These include decentralisation; improving the rule of law (also by reforming the judiciary and fighting corruption); increasing good governance, respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, notably respect for persons belonging to minorities; and improving the business climate and trade relations with the European Union. For all this, the consent and support of the wider population is essential. We will support Ukraine in its reform process, thereby demonstrating the meaning of European solidarity.
And, this is why we all meet here today. Past experience has shown that while the level of donor funding and its timing is important, the efficiency and effectiveness of that support is even more important. Coordination of support is absolutely necessary if we are to ensure effective action.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The international community has responded to the challenge of the Ukrainian crisis. Allow me to highlight the major initiatives:
In March 2014 the Commission presented a large support package worth € 11.1 billion over the next seven years to help stabilise and develop Ukraine. This package includes major contributions from the EIB and EBRD with whom we co-operate very closely on assisting Ukraine.
In April, as part of this package, we approved a large State Building Contract worth €355 million. This budget support programme will support Ukraine’s political and economic stabilisation. We have just released the first tranche of a total amount of €250 million. The second tranche, I would like to underline, is conditional on progress in reforms in the areas of anti-corruption, public administration, constitutional reform, electoral legislation and justice. We will also provide Macro-Financial Assistance of €1.6 billion in the form of medium-term loans at favourable interest rates. A first disbursement of €100 million took place in May and a further €500 million was disbursed in June. The combination of both - the budget support operation and the Macro-Financial Assistance - has allowed us to disburse a total of €850 million.
In addition, in April, the European Commission decided to create a ‘Support Group for Ukraine’ to help the Ukrainian authorities implement reforms. Its Head, Peter Balas, will talk about the European Agenda for Reform which we have jointly developed with the Ukrainian Government.
Moreover in June, European Union Foreign Ministers agreed to establish a Common Security and Defence Policy mission with a view to its deployment during the summer. This civilian non-executive mission will help Ukraine's security forces to improve their governance in line with European standards, especially in areas relating to rule of law, human rights and democratic oversight. This will help reinforce popular confidence in State institutions.
Other donors represented here have also done a lot. Our experience with many other regions of Europe and the world shows that coordination can make the difference by ensuring policy coherence and efficient use of resources.
That is why we believe that today's meeting can add real value to the common effort in support of Ukraine's stabilisation. The European Union, its Member States and G7 Partners have all shown unity in defending Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity, freedom of choice in international relations. Now is the right time to focus on making our support for Ukraine's political and economic reforms even more effective.
Thank you for your attention.