Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)
European section of United Cities and Local Governments

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Bridges of Trust

Solidarity with Ukraine - 15.12.2022

Building partnerships to empower municipalities
From March 2021 to November 2022, the Council of European Municipalities and Regions and PLATFORMA have been implementing a project “Empowering municipalities in Ukraine and the European Union through building municipal partnerships” within the framework of U-LEAD with Europe’s initiative “Bridges of Trust” and with the support of U-LEAD with Europe. 

Based on a careful matching process, which included analysis of the socio-economic factors and sectors of development of the EU municipalities, the Initiative matched 10 Ukrainian municipalities in 7 regions with municipalities in Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and Slovakia. Online bilateral meetings between partners allowed to launch the partnerships, identify common interests as well as plan joint activities such as study visits to exchange best practices.

After the start of the Russian war, some European municipalities, upon request of their Ukrainian partners, provided humanitarian and financial assistance. Such support from European partners is extremely valuable. For example, Šiauliai district municipality in Lithuania sent eleven tons of humanitarian aid to the Dolyna community in the Ivano-Frankivsk region. The total amount is approximately 100 thousand euros. The same partner organised a summer school for 36 children from Dolyna.

Through such projects, we are trying to link those Ukrainian municipalities, especially small and medium size, that need support but might have no experience in international cooperation, with municipalities in the EU that are motivated and ready to help. We remember the important role peer-to-peer cooperation and twinning played in the post-WWII reconstruction of Europe. It should also help Ukraine recover, rebuild, renew, and become a member of the EU family. These are the real and long-term bridges that CEMR together with our Associations, and with the support of actors like the U-LEAD, are helping to build”, - says Fabrizio Rossi, Secretary General of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions. 

Following Russian invasion of Ukraine, an important objective of the project became organization of the solidarity events, in close cooperation with the Associations of Local Government and the U-LEAD with Europe, in order to communicate about the war time realities and the needs of Ukrainian municipalities and to motivate other EU municipalities to engage and establish new partnerships. 400 participants took part in the Poland-Ukraine, Slovakia-Ukraine and France-Ukraine Solidarity Forums. Ukrainian mayors presented the realities of both destroyed and formerly occupied municipalities as well as those that have accepted internally displaced people but have not suffered damages of the physical infrustructure. The EU municipalities have also presented the concrete actions of support.

For us at U-LEAD, the “Bridges of Trust” is not just another initiative, not just one of numerous projects we do every day. It is literally one of the main pillars of our work. For we constantly wish to bring Ukrainian municipalities closer to their counterparts in the EU. And the importance of the “Bridges of Trust” during the Russian invasion hasn’t decreased in the slightest, but, quite the opposite, it has become even more crucial. The forums that we’ve had over the last months have been more than an opportunity for international cooperation – they provided a perspective to Ukrainian municipalities and thus a bit of hope to their citizens. But in the long run the aftermath of our work will be even much more valuable, for the partnerships we have facilitated will turn from bridges to foundations – the foundations of the future European local self-government. There is so much work that is still ahead of us, but for getting this far I am sincerely grateful to all our partners who made the “Bridges of Trust” possible: the Council of European Municipalities and Regions, the European coalition of cities and regions PLATFORMA, the Ministry for Communities and Territorial Development, and, of course, all the municipalities that participated”, – Bastian Veigel, GIZ Programme Director of U-LEAD with Europe

The project has also contributed to the understanding of key success and failure factors for international municipal cooperation of Ukrainian municipalities. The publication prepared in the framework of the project provides an annotated mapping of existing partnerships between Ukrainian and EU municipalities; an analysis of key success and failure factors of international municipal cooperation with a special focus on cooperation between Ukrainian and EU municipalities and recommendation for future sustainable cooperation between Ukrainian and EU municipalities.

The Council of European Municipalities and Regions will continue its work in supporting cooperation between local governments in Ukraine and in the EU member states.

To see more stories of support consult this page
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