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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR)
News article3 February 2023Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations6 min read

Statement by President von der Leyen at the joint press conference with President Michel and President Zelenskyy following the EU-Ukraine Summit

President von der Leyen at the joint press conference with President Michel and President Zelenskyy

Mr President, dear Volodymyr,

Thank you very much for hosting us here at this Summit in Kyiv. I often say that Ukraine is a true inspiration for Europe. And this morning I had another reason to say this. I had the occasion to go with Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal to a post office at the Maidan. And we met there with plenty of people that came to exchange their old light bulbs for LED modern light bulbs. It is part of our national and international effort to reduce energy consumption. And it is part of the donation of 50 million LED light bulbs that we have promised. We have already reached the figure of 35 million LED light bulbs that can be delivered. And it was amazing to see that from the moment the message was out, in the first three days – I was told –, 750,000 Ukrainian citizens came to the nearest post office, exchanged their old light bulbs for modern LED light bulbs to be part of those who save energy and work for energy security.

I think this is symbolic because after this short visit on the Maidan and the post office, there was the air raid, and we had to go to the shelter. And that shows the war reality of every single day that you are experiencing here, over and over again. And I must say, if a living proof was needed that Russia is suffering a massive, strategic failure but Ukraine is withstanding and is building its path towards the European Union: The fact that we are here for the 24th EU-Ukraine Summit, amidst the war, but we are building, discussing and developing the future of Ukraine in the European Union – that is speaking more than a thousand words. And what we have done is very down to earth. This is of course also the war reality: You have to act today, on the ground.

Let us start with energy. For example, as I said, the 35 million LED light bulbs are one example. If we take all of them, let us reach the figure of 50 million LED light bulbs. If we are able to distribute them in the country, the saving equivalent of these 50 million LED light bulbs will be the power production by one nuclear reactor. So much can be done by simple means, just to help save energy and replace old light bulbs with better ones.

We discussed of course much more how to support energy security. At the moment being, for example generators are of utmost importance to keep the electricity running. So the delivery of 5,400 power generators is so far agreed. We immediately repair infrastructure, as much as we can, and keep the grid functioning. At the beginning of the war, when we connected our grids – rapidly, in record speed, in two weeks – it was Ukraine that exported electricity to the European Union. Now, it is the other way round. Ukraine needs electricity. And yes, we will provide you with two-gigawatt electricity that you need, with the help of all the Member States. We are in one energy community already. And that is solidarity, that is the European face that we want to show.

The same goes for fast recovery. Helping now to repair the damages that Putin's bombs are doing to the energy infrastructure is one part. But the repair of buildings, of roads, of infrastructure overall, schools, hospitals, is a daily job you have to do. And therefore, it is so important that we immediately start with the fast recovery. This is embedded in the larger process of reconstruction. I am glad that we could announce that the first EUR 1 billion for fast recovery will be provided. We have now our secretariat between Kyiv and the European Commission up and running. So the work can start immediately to make sure that the recovery shows deliverables immediately on the ground.

Of course, there is also the support for the economy. The state functions have to be maintained, salaries have to be paid, social benefits. The economy must run. So far, the European Union has provided to Ukraine in hindsight EUR 50 billion, including the EUR 18 billion. That will be the regular payments per month to the budget support of Ukraine. But we will also be discussing how we can increase the income, the revenue for the Ukrainian business and economy.

One point is our solidarity lanes. The solidarity lanes are a big success. We strengthen them now with another EUR 1 billion, they are the transport routes for all the goods from Ukraine to the European Union in a fast priority lane. 25% of Ukraine's GDP last year has been transported through the solidarity lanes. In value, it is a revenue of EUR 20 billion. We will of course prolong the programme of tariff-free access to the market, so goods can come tariff-free from Ukraine to the European Union. It will be the same this year as it was last year. And Ukraine is joining European programmes, of course with waiving the fees that would have been paid for these programmes.

At this summit, we also discussed how to make Russia pay for the brutal destruction it is causing. We are exploring with our partners the options we have for that. The perpetrator must pay and must be held accountable. We are collecting together the evidence of the war crimes. We have now the prosecutors in place. We are discussing what kind of institutional set-up is necessary. But for us is important that we have the political will to make Russia pay for what it did to Ukraine.

Russia's society and economy is already paying a hard price because of the sanctions that we imposed. The tenth package on its way. We have the aim to have it in place by 24 February. It has a volume of round about EUR 10 billion. It is a massive package again. The plan is to focus once more on technology that can and should not be used by Russia's war machine. In other words, we look deeper into components that were found, for example, in drones to make sure that there is zero availability for Russia of these technologies or the drones production, for example, in Iran that we are following closely. As a third element, we will focus intensively on cutting circumvention. This is a topic. So the tenth package will also have proposals to fight circumvention.

Last but certainly not least, we focused, of course, on Ukraine's accession path. Your determination to forge ahead is impressive. You are taking important steps forward with all the reforms to meet the recommendations. And we should not forget that you are doing this while you are fighting against an aggressor. We will continue to support you every step of the way. We discussed the details. Besides reforms, it is important to have a good track record on implementation. I know you are working hard on that, too. And rest assured that your progress will be reflected in our important enlargement report for the Member States that is due in autumn. Listening to you, dear Volodymyr, Mr President, I am confident that you will keep up the good pace. Because you know what is good for your country. These reforms will anchor Ukraine in our family of free and liberal democracies. 

Slava Ukraini.

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