Letter: Keep EU to back-seat role in Ukraine reconstruction

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Martin Sandbu’s articles on the reconstruction of Ukraine and its EU accession (“Ukraine needs an ambitious new Marshall Plan from Europe”, Opinion, April 11; and “Kyiv and the west must start planning for the peace they want now”, Opinion, March 14) are full of insight.

As he says, there must be gains to be made by harnessing Ukraine’s rebuilding to the country’s preparation for EU membership — so that reconstruction becomes a practical trial for juridical reforms as well as those in economic, social and development policies, and in its administration.

In his April 11 article, Sandbu cites a reconstruction plan developed by the Centre for Economic Policy Research. One of this plan’s principles, he says, is that reconstruction funds and planning should be managed by a “new EU sponsored body”. Here, we should take care.

Ukraine is demonstrating its administrative, as well as its military ability on a day by day basis as it resists and cleans up after the Russian Federation’s invasion. This experience should give confidence that Ukraine is capable of planning its reconstruction and of managing its own funds or donations, without the oversight of a new body.

The efforts of the EU and donor countries should be to assist Ukraine government ministries from the back seat, not from behind the wheel. For example, by advising where administrative practices might be changed so as to be more in line with EU practice, not by shouldering Ukraine out of the driver’s seat and taking away its responsibility and leadership. That is not the way to prepare Ukraine, nor is it necessary.

Graham Meadows
Director General, Regional Policies
EU Commission, 2003-06
Brussels, Belgium

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