Von der Leyen lays out recovery plan for post-war Ukraine – POLITICO

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday backed a financial package for Ukraine that would rebuild the country and reshape its economy once the war with Russia ends.

“We want Ukraine to win this war. But we also want to put in place the conditions for Ukraine’s success in the aftermath of the war,” von der Leyen said in a speech to the European Parliament, during which she also proposed a phase-out of Russian oil purchases and new sanctions aimed at the coffers of Moscow.

As Western allies have funneled billions of dollars into Ukraine in the form of military and humanitarian aid, attention has recently turned to the incredible decimation across the country – and the dire financial situation it is causing. has created.

US President Joe Biden has already asked lawmakers must approve $8.5 billion in economic support for Ukraine as part of a $33 billion aid package. And on Wednesday, von der Leyen argued that Europe needed to move too – while pausing before suggesting a specific financial figure.

“We as Team Europe must do our part,” she said to applause from members of the European Parliament.

Von der Leyen noted that Ukraine’s economic output would plunge between 35 and 50 percent this year and pointed to International Monetary Fund estimates that the country now needs 5 billion euros every month just to cover payments. and maintain basic services for citizens.

To meet this need, the head of the Commission has proposed an “ambitious recovery package”. The package she envisaged would both bring funds to Ukraine and restructure the economy more in line with EU standards.

“It could establish a system of milestones and targets to ensure that EU money really benefits the Ukrainian people and is spent according to EU rules,” von der Leyen said. “It could help fight corruption – we have to do it – it could bring the legal environment in line with European standards and radically improve Ukraine’s production capacity.”

However, to realize his vision, von der Leyen will ultimately need the buy-in of EU countries, which means considerable negotiations await him.

The goal, von der Leyen said, is for the stimulus package to speed up Ukraine’s entry into the EU — a request kyiv has made but which some EU countries say will take time. The idea of ​​sending money to Ukraine based on economic reforms could be the key to convincing countries like the Netherlands and France which have so far been cold about expanding the EU. EU, according to diplomats.

“Ultimately, honorable members, this will pave the way for Ukraine’s future in the European Union,” von der Leyen concluded.

The Commission is expected to present its response to Ukraine’s membership application before a meeting of EU leaders in June.

Some diplomats say a potential compromise could be to call Ukraine “potential candidatea label that currently applies to Kosovo and Bosnia – an outcome that would fall short of what Ukraine wants. Such a designation is given to countries with a clear prospect of eventually joining the EU without offering them full “candidate” status.

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