Association for International Affairs. Building Ukraine Back Better: The Role of Czechia and the EU

2023-05-30 | Expert publications, Reconstruction


There is a consensus among Ukrainian stakeholders that the post-war  reconstruction must be both a platform for modernising the country along the lines of building back better, and a tool for European integration. There is therefore a focus on such areas as green transition and reforms that will ultimately bring Ukraine closer to the EU.

In connection with post-war reconstruction there are huge expectations in Ukraine that can lead to disillusion if the progress is not steady. Because of this Ukraine must be given a tangible European future perspective under the condition that it will solve its own domestic issues in parallel.

The current discussion on the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine has so far proved to be rather fragmented among different formats, actors as well as in terms of their expectations from the process. The main dividing lines have emerged not only around the question of leadership and coordination among the main partners, but also around financial contributions and thematic priorities that need to be better reconciled in the future.

While the process of planning and coordination of long-term recovery among the leading institutions and states has started, it is above all the immediate fast reconstruction, macro-financial stabilisation as well as humanitarian and emergency support (e.g. including most prominently infrastructure and energy) that have been put in place thus far.

So far, the position and efforts of the EU institutions and member states have delivered only mixed results, especially when compared with the leadership at the level of G7 and particularly the United States, which the EU only recently started to compensate for with contributions from individual EU members, particularly from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).

Among them, Czechia has been one of the leading voices, appointing a governmental special envoy for reconstruction of Ukraine in mid-January 2023, whose role is coordination with Ukraine, the G7, individual Czech governmental institutions and agencies as well as the business community and civil society. At the same time, Czechia has played an important role also at the business level, when its companies, united within the Business Club Ukraine organised by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, showed not only willingness to return to Ukraine, but also concrete and practical help in investing in the country’s future.

However, to play a more active and leading role, the EU as such needs to step up its activities and its coordination role as well as stressing its own policy priorities towards Ukraine, including enlargement. They need to be communicated widely in the world, including the future process of integration within the EU and the sustainable angle following the “building back better” philosophy.

Countries from the CEE, including Czechia, Poland or the Baltic states, should actively engage in the debate about the post-war reconstruction and – based on their relatively recent experience with enlargement and close relations with Ukraine – maximise Western efforts to also promote the question of standards and compatibility with the EU’s acquis necessary for internal reforms.

Discussions on the Ukraine recovery should not be limited to the governmental level only. Regions and local municipalities as well as local business and civil society should be encouraged to actively seek partners within Ukraine to share experience and provide specific help where there is demand for it.


Read the full report HERE.