Rebuilding Ukraine: Current estimates predict the rebuilding of Ukraine will cost upwards of 350 billion Euros as of September 2022. Meanwhile, EU officials have spoken out for Ukrainian admission into the EU. In what way should the EU support the rebuilding process and shape future relations with Ukraine after the war?

Committee on Development
Written by: Felix Crawford (NL)

Relevance of the Topic 

The war in Ukraine is a constantly developing conflict. As of yet, media could suggest that there is no end in sight. Still, it is important to look at the future as well. What happens after the war? When can Ukraine attempt to rebuild itself and repair the destruction and the devastation left behind by the Russian attack?

The EU has demonstrated its strong intentions to help rebuild Ukraine. There are many operations in progress right now, and more are being discussed. Billions of euros are being disbursed to Ukraine to assist in its recovery, with more aid expected to come over the next few years. There are however complications regarding long-term aid. Member States are having a hard time agreeing on what the details of the pledges and agreements should be, especially regarding long-term commitments.

There are various different ways aid can be administered; some consists of monetary support for general use, but there is also financial support aimed directly at supporting the humanitarian and military effort in Ukraine. Humanitarian aid varies from supplying people with shelter equipment to distributing specialised equipment which can be used in case of a nuclear attack. Military aid is mostly centred around defence weaponry and protective supplies. Another important factor which is hard to facilitate whilst the war is still ongoing is the need for structural support for the country’s residents—many of whom have lost any sense of normalcy or security. How can the EU ensure that support is successful in helping to comprehensively rebuild the country after a prospective ending of the conflict?

Key Terms & Definitions 

  • RescEU: is a humanitarian project managed and financed fully by the European Commission. It has created an EU-wide stockpile of emergency resources that can be deployed at a moment’s notice and is used whenever there is a crisis situation in Europe which requires immediate emergency supplies and support. It is part of the larger EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
  • The EU’s Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP): is a part of the EU’s common foreign policy. It is primarily focused on preventing external conflict, as well as on crisis response and preparedness. Although Ukraine is not part of the EU, many of the EU’s foreign policy branches are strongly involved in the conflict.
  • The Ukraine Recovery Conference: is one of many summits and conferences held by EU Member States with the goal of supporting Ukraine. Many experts and leaders of EU Member States gather at these conferences to find common ground and gain an understanding of the different perspectives on the war and consequent recovery.

Key Actors

The Russian Federation: Russia is the main aggressor against Ukraine. Through its invasion it has caused extreme duress to the people of Ukraine, alongside hundreds of billions of euros in damages. Both the war expenses and the worldwide sanctions have caused significant economic problems for Russia domestically.

Ukraine: Ukraine is the primary victim of this conflict. Billions of euros in damages have amassed in Ukraine throughout the war, and its people suffer greatly. More than five million Ukrainian people are currently refugees, and nearly all Ukrainians are negatively impacted by the war’s consequences. Almost ten million people are at risk of mental conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety.

EU Member States: Though the EU tries to coordinate larger operations in Ukraine, nearly all Member States support Ukraine outside of the EU framework as well. Examples of this are France and Poland, which have both supplied copious amounts of military aid, and Germany which hosted the Ukraine Recovery Conference.

The European External Action Service (EEAS): The EEAS is the EU’s diplomatic service. It works under the European Commission and is the primary organ responsible for international diplomatic action, and is also involved in military endeavours. An important part of the EEAS is the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) which focuses on fostering relations between the EU and relevant associated countries.

Mental Health Europe (MHE): This is an NGO network centred around mental health. They have been very active in both Ukraine and Poland, helping NGOs connect with people and offer direct mental support. Organisations such as the MHE could help victims, as well as the general population, to psychologically move forward from the atrocities committed.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD): As the main organisation responsible for European developmental investments, the EBRD is deeply involved in the Ukraine reconstruction efforts. As part of the EBRD Resilience and Livelihoods package, the EBRD invests in many different businesses and institutions in Ukraine, such as their energy network.

Key Conflicts 

An Active War

An apartment building in Donetsk damaged by a Russian attack on October 9. (Carl Court/Getty Images)

There are many possible outcomes to the war, with the final outcome being far from certain. Rebuilding Ukraine is not going to be very effective whilst the war is still ongoing. Though humanitarian efforts are already assisting with rebuilding the country, their effectiveness is reduced by the constant destruction. Humanitarian aid workers are having a hard time accessing those in need of help, and civilians cannot safely leave the war zones. Repairing the psychological damage left behind will take decades. Previously, humanitarian corridors have been used to extract civilians and administer aid. Considering the risk of escalating the war, the EU cannot force Russia to cease their attacks, but efforts are being made to discourage the Russian government from continuing the war.

Slow Decision-Making

Because of the various different parties that have to be appeased in the decision-making process, the EU can be slow to respond to crisis situations. After months of negotiations, disbursements that were finalised six months ago are only now coming into effect, and only EUR 4.2 billion of a previously dedicated EUR 9 billion has made it to Kyiv so far. When responding to crises, certain flaws of the EU’s supranational system become apparent.

Rebuilding Despite Corruption and Instability

Although it would be ideal if all reconstruction efforts in Ukraine went according to plan, there is no guarantee that the allocated money meant for development will be used for the reconstruction of the country. Before the war, corruption ran rampant in Ukraine. Initiatives to counter corruption in Ukraine will face complicated challenges once the war ends. In a post-war state there are many variables that can stunt anti-corruption measures: uncertainty, fear, remains of pre-war corruption, and a weak rule of law are all hindrances in the way of a transparent and non-corrupt government.

Measures in place

There are many plans to assist Ukraine that are being considered by the EU. There is a wealth of legislative documents and agreements, so much so that addressing all of them is not viable. Therefore, a comprehensive list of the most important developments will be expanded upon.

Food for thought 

The EU has an obligation to help rebuild Ukraine, both during and after the war. How should the EU approach this whilst staying true to its principles and supporting the Ukrainian people to the best of its abilities? Member States disagree on how best to offer assistance, and tensions run high as financial, military, humanitarian and social help is desperately needed.

Another important matter is what the EU should do towards de-escalating the war. Though creating more international tensions is hardly desired, the EU should make its stance on Russia’s hostilities clearly known. What should future relations with Ukraine (and Russia) look like, and how can the EU make sure that humanitarian help is effectively administered when international relationships are tense or fighting is still happening?