Ukraine: Regional and local initiatives for support and exchanges

Speech by Bernd Vöhringer (Germany, EPP/CCE), President of the Chamber of Local Authorities

Session: Initiatives and available support at the European and international level
17 June 2022, 10:00-11:15

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Dear Mr Berntsson,

Dear Mr Spahr,

Dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, I would like to express my gratitude for the opportunity to address you on behalf of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe. We are here all today, despite the distance, to discuss “regional and local initiatives for support and exchanges”. This is a fundamental topic in the times we are going through. Since the very first day this brutal war started, solidarity is both a cause and a consequence of the courageous resistance shown by the Ukrainian people.

Solidarity has been growing within Ukraine's borders and beyond, as initiatives of support both between Ukrainian municipalities and across Europe, are multiplying. We, European partner institutions, can contribute to this through co-ordination of the political and humanitarian support we are providing to our Ukrainian partners, in the spirit of complementarity.

Solidarity is woven from the bottom up for a clear reason: local authorities enjoy the highest levels of trust of their citizens, thanks to a direct communication and responsiveness which originates from a real understanding of their needs. The potentials of a coherent, bottom-up response is of high importance for the Congress.

Dear colleagues,

Ukraine today needs coherent and co-ordinated action at all levels of governance, as well as a dialogue between them for rebuilding and revival of the country and its communities. After the unprecedented challenges that local authorities in Ukraine face as a consequence of war, the Congress is placing particular effort to reconstruct democracy and rebuild resilience at local level. In this view, a joint Declaration between the Association of Ukrainian Cities (AUC) and the Congress was signed during the visit of the Congress President and the Secretary General in Kyiv on 2 June.

For its part, the Congress places high importance on promoting networking and experience sharing between local and regional authorities across Europe. In this regard, the Congress will, under its project in Ukraine, facilitate the exchange of experience between local elected representatives in Ukraine and with their counterparts in other European countries on how to manage a city in times of crisis and provide its residents with the basic services they urgently need, and how to contribute to post-war recovery.

We are already organising regular meetings between major European associations of local and regional authorities and the Association of Ukrainian Cities to exchange information and promote co-operation and concrete aid. I welcome in particular the participation of the Assembly of European Regions in these meetings. Our members are also engaged in concrete action, working directly with each other, with central governments, with citizens and civil society.

Allow me to present you another initiative, launched by my city, the City of Sindelfingen, Germany, in March 2022 under the patronage of the Congress.

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