Check against delivery!
Thank you very much, good afternoon dear Deputy Prime Minister, dear Olga [Stefanishyna]!
I am very pleased to be in Kyiv today.
Earlier, I already had the opportunity to met President Zelenskyy, Prime Minister Shmyhal and Speaker Stefanchuk. I just participated at the meeting of the Commission for coordination of the implementation of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU.
Throughout these meetings and throughout my visit the message I bring is very clear: Ukraine is a close neighbour and a key partner for the European Union.
At the same time, the situation in and around Ukraine continues to be of great concern and is very high on our agenda.
The EU continues to support strongly Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. We have also very clearly condemned the recent cyber-attacks and we are committed to scale up our support to strengthen Ukraine’s cyber resilience.
It is also important that Ukraine continues to strengthen its internal resilience by moving forward on the comprehensive reforms and doing this together. This includes important reforms, like to continue with the reform of the judiciary and continue to deliver on the in the anti-corruption agenda.
We stand by Ukraine in these difficult circumstances. The EU has already provided a significant support for Ukraine, both to support the country’s resilience and its modernisation, and specifically to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Let me recall that since 2014, the EU and the European financial institutions have already allocated over €17 billion in grants and loans to the country.
And we will continue to deliver. You may have seen that our President (of the Commission) von der Leyen has announced another package of support, both in emergency loans and in grants.
First of all, we put on the table a new macro-financial assistance as an emergency assistance of €1.2 billion to help Ukraine to address its financing needs during the crisis and the conflict. Technical work will immediately start, as we speak, so that we can create all the conditions of the new programme and, therefore, we can continue to help the modernisation efforts of the country very quickly.
As a second measure, the Commission will add €120 million of grants to our bilateral assistance to Ukraine to help the state-building and resilience efforts.
And on top of all this, we will continue to invest in the country’s future through the Economic and Investment Plan for the Eastern Partnership. Through that Plan we aim to leverage for Ukraine up to €6.5 billion in investments to support the socio-economic recovery and development for the next years.
The Plan is anchored around five flagship initiatives for Ukraine to target the private sector development and SMEs, to increase connectivity and infrastructure with Europe, green and digital transformation and energy efficiency and transition in rural areas.
I was very glad that we could develop these five flagship initiatives together with the Government. I think that the level of ownership of these projects is very high and these should be the projects that create the most impact for the society and the economy of Ukraine in the coming years.
Therefore I was very pleased that today we could already start to talk about the the implementation of this Plan and how it can bring benefits to the people of Ukraine in a fast and very visible way.
We also discussed the Association Agreement and let me recall that this is the most ambitious agreement that we have with any partner country. Ukraine has made important progress towards its full implementation. However, further work is still needed, not least for realising the economic goals of this agreement, which are the aims of this Government to deliver on. We also discussed therefore how we could explore further possibilities to deepen our sectoral cooperation on the basis of this agreement.
And as a last topic, let me also underline that we will continue to support Ukraine when it comes to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. In Ukraine, we swiftly mobilised funding of nearly €200 million of aid to support the socio-economic recovery and the health sector. Together with our Member States, we have already delivered nearly 4 million COVID vaccines on top of the 8.4 million doses delivered through the COVAX initiative, where the EU is a top contributor.
And finally we also touched upon the issue of national minorities and the need to continue to engage with them on the basis of existing commitments and there the European Union is ready to help to bring this process further. With this, I thank you for your attention.