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Dear Prime Minister,
I am delighted and proud to be back in Kyiv on what is a landmark day for the European Union and Ukraine.
In a few moments, we will sign a Memorandum of Understanding, which will kick-start our enhanced cooperation in the strategic area of critical raw materials and batteries.
This is yet another expression of our mutual commitment and long-standing partnership.
Ukraine’s recent achievements are remarkable. And despite the pandemic and ensuing economic downturn, you have continued to make substantial progress on your reform path.
Fully grasping the opportunities stemming from the Association Agreement and its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area can help make an additional leap. The fact that trade between us has grown by more than 50 percent since 2016 speaks volumes for this potential.
Here, I must applaud the leadership, determination and personal engagement of you, Prime Minister, as well as President Zelenskyy, in pushing these efforts forward.
The EU will continue to stand by your side in solidarity and with unwavering commitment to support Ukraine across all critical areas, including its territorial integrity, the rule of law, reforms, and sustainable economic growth.
This is all the more important now that our recovery from the pandemic is kicking into high gear.
We should turn our attention to the opportunities on offer in the green and digital transitions – a process, which will have a transformational change on our societies – and make the most of them.
I know we can accomplish this.
Almost five years ago, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding – to address the shared energy security challenge, by intensifying and expanding our energy cooperation. This has brought our two energy markets closer together and resulted in Ukraine’s ambitious energy reforms.
Today’s Memorandum on critical raw materials and batteries comes at another pivotal time for the world.
In the wake of the Paris Agreement, the decarbonisation of the global economy – across all sectors – has become a top priority and has also become our growth strategy.
A Herculean effort will be needed if we are to succeed. Therefore, we are far better off if we can join forces with like-minded partners.
So I welcome Ukraine’s willingness to accelerate your efforts in this area, and to engage with us on the EU’s flagship strategy, the European Green Deal – in particular on clean game-changing technologies, such as batteries and the resources they need.
It is vital that we put our green ambitions at the heart of our future economies and societies. For Ukraine that could mean embarking on a society-wide “Ukraine 2050” project – to build a modern, sustainable and digital economy.
Such a strategy would help decouple growth and socio-economic development from emissions.
It would ensure no one is left behind.
And it would help us intensify our joint work on the green, digital and resilience agenda.
Beyond that, we need to look at specific next steps, which we can put in motion already today.
Investment into green technologies, such as renewables, batteries and hydrogen, and into their respective strategic ecosystems, can stimulate green growth, create clean jobs and support regions dependent on fossil fuel industries, as they transition away.
This last task can be challenging, but as shown by your EU neighbours, it is certainly possible. For instance, Poland’s region of Silesia, with its long heritage in coal mining, is now turning into a battery hub and attracting significant investments.
All this could also cement Ukraine’s leadership in the region and make the most of its outstanding potential within the Eastern Partnership and the Energy Community.
Let me say again, at every step along the way, the EU will be by your side as a partner in this historic endeavour.
Today’s strategic partnership on critical raw materials and batteries is an important milestone in that process – and something to be proud of.
There is enormous potential here. Critical raw materials, essential for decarbonising our economies, can be found in abundance in Ukraine, which holds deposits of 20 out of 30 such materials.
Our ambition under the partnership is to:
Approximate policies and regulatory frameworks, notably environmental, social and governance criteria.
Integrate and foster the development of the European and Ukrainian raw materials and batteries value chains.
Help Ukraine to modernise its raw materials sector and create drivers for economic and social development.
While placing unshakable commitment on sustainability and social responsibility.
This partnership will be an open one, and I strongly encourage all relevant stakeholders to take part – for example, by joining the industrial alliances, the European Raw Materials Alliance and the European Battery Alliance.
We will also share our knowledge and experience from building up these alliances, together with technical assistance.
I have no doubt this partnership will bear fruit for both sides.
And from this positive start, the EU and Ukraine can, step by step, work together to achieve our green ambitions, with a view to being climate neutral by the middle of the century.
Once again, allow me to thank you, Prime Minister – dear Denys, both personally and on behalf of the EU, for your hard work and unbending commitment.
Today, we can all feel proud, as we launch the next phase in our partnership. And I am convinced that there is more to come thanks to the robust cooperation between the European Union and your country.
I look forward to many fruitful years of ever-closer partnership. Thank you.