Since the beginning of the russian[i] full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the EU has delivered an unprecedented level of support to our country, ranging from humanitarian aid to military supplies, direct budget support and technical assistance. On top of this, the EU has also recently granted Ukraine access to funding through several EU Programmes. These finance a variety of fields, including health, climate, taxation, customs, digital transformation, to name but a few. Ukrainians can present their project ideas for various funding programmes, and they will receive support in all stages of implementation. This blog will highlight the main features of some of the EU programmes available for Ukraine and provide an overview of the possible benefits that Ukrainian applicants will receive from participation.
Over the past year, Ukraine has joined the following EU funding programmes: LIFE, Copernicus, EU4Health, Fiscalis, Digital Europe, Single Market, and Customs. These are explored in more detail below.
LIFE and Copernicus programmes
Ukraine joined the LIFE Programme for climate and environment in June 2022. This programme is an EU financial instrument for environmental and climate protection. Since its establishment, the programme has co-financed more than 5,600 environmental protection projects in and outside the EU.
Why is it important for Ukraine?
It is an opportunity to preserve our biodiversity throughout the course of this war, restore ecosystems, and prevent water and soil pollution. The budget of the programme for the 2021-2027 period is about €5.4 billion (which is 0.48% of the total EU budget). Ukraine can submit projects and receive funds to restore the environment from the damages of the war. Ukraine’s participation in the LIFE programme is an opportunity to implement environmental projects. It also provides means to learn and implement developed European procedures in the field of environmental protection.
In the short term, the LIFE programme will be able to support Ukraine’s recovery efforts through needs analysis, mobilisation and capacity development of various factors to clean up soils and water bodies with the help of ecological solutions. In the medium and long term, as in other LIFE countries, projects can be aimed at developing and demonstrating eco-innovative methods and approaches, promoting the best practices and behavioural changes to help restore and preserve the environment, etc. Applicants from Ukraine can already submit their projects by participating in the calls for proposals in 2023.
Based on the Copernicus programme satellite data, Ukraine will have access to up-to-date statistics on environmental monitoring and the effect the war has had on the environment. The data will include forest fires, illegal logging, soil contamination, air quality, marine ecology, and radiation monitoring.
In July 2022, the European Commission signed an agreement associating Ukraine with the EU4Health programme. It will enable our health system to respond to immediate needs and contribute to long-term recovery. State authorities, non-governmental organisations and small and medium-sized businesses will be able to receive funding for health care improvement projects on equal terms with EU member states, Norway and Iceland. It is the largest programme in the field of healthcare, with €5 billion allocated for the seven-year duration of the programme (2021-2027).
- Ukraine will be able to receive funding to support the health sector and respond to urgent needs. It will also help in the reconstruction of the country after the war.
- EU4Health will help to mitigate the damage associated with hostilities, as well as finance Ukrainian public and private projects that will play a part in further reconstruction.
- Ukraine’s accession to EU4Health will make it possible to better prepare Ukraine’s healthcare system for European standards and facilitate Ukraine’s sectoral integration with the European Union.
Digital Europe programme
Ukraine joined Digital Europe in September 2022. This programme provides funding for the digitalisation of European countries. The goal is to accelerate economic recovery and digital transformation. Ukraine will have access to 4 out of 5 capacity areas with a total budget of about €6 billion from 2021 until 2027:
- High-performance computing
- Artificial intelligence, data, and cloud services
- Digital skills
- The use of digital technologies in the economy and society
How will Ukraine benefit?
Participation in the programme brings Ukraine closer to the EU’s Single Digital Market. This is an opportunity to adopt the ways of EU countries and share our own, as well as strengthening joint digital capabilities and more effectively countering russian aggression. The programme will contribute to the development of Ukrainian companies, researchers, and state authorities with the EU, through the construction of joint digital infrastructures. It will also contribute to further digital transformation.
Single Market programme
Facilitating access to EU markets, promoting entrepreneurship, learning from EU business experience, and modernising industry – these and other opportunities will be available to Ukrainian businesses under the EU’s Single Market Programme, which Ukraine joined in February 2023.
Applicants from Ukraine are eligible to participate in the following components of the Programme:
- strengthening the competitiveness and sustainability of small and medium-sized enterprises (about €1 billion funds allocated),
- the production and dissemination of high-quality European statistics (about €546 million available).
Ukraine’s accession to this programme will strengthen cooperation with the EU, which is especially important in view of the European integration process and Ukraine’s EU candidate status. Participation in the programme will provide additional support for Ukrainian entrepreneurs and help strengthen the Ukrainian economy.
Ukraine has joined the Fiscalis programme for cooperation in the field of taxation in September 2022. Protection of financial and economic interests of the EU and its member states against tax fraud and tax evasion, as well as the improvement of tax collection and administration are just some of the objectives of this programme with a €269 million budget for 2021-2027.
What are the advantages for Ukraine?
Participation in Fiscalis will improve partnership relations between tax administrations of Ukraine and EU member countries. This will be a catalyst for mutual exchange of experience and best practices, which in turn will strengthen the institutional capacity of fiscal bodies. Ukraine will have the opportunity to use modern European IT systems in the field of taxation. Cooperation within Fiscalis will allow the creation of powerful European-style tax authorities. Moreover, joining the programme will also better equip Ukraine to becoming a member of the EU.
The Customs programme (joined by Ukraine in September 2023) supports the development and operation of central IT systems for customs in the Union, and the essential cooperation between customs authorities across the EU.
Participating in the programme will help Ukrainian customs administrations handle increasing trade flows emerging trends and technologies with more efficiency, while also being better equipped to respond to security threats.
Connecting Europe Facility
On 6 June 2023, the European Commission signed an agreement associating Ukraine with the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) programme for infrastructure funding. This programme contributes to the European Green Deal objectives and the Digital Decade 2030 targets to promote greener and more sustainable trans-European transport and energy networks as well as digitalisation.
What are the benefits for Ukraine?
This Programme will enable Ukrainian project promoters to apply for EU funding for projects of common interest in the transport, energy and digital realms, further improving Ukraine’s connectivity with its EU neighbours. It will support Ukraine’s integration within the EU Single Market, promote growth, jobs and competitiveness.
For transport, Ukrainian authorities and companies will be able to apply for funding under future CEF transport calls in the current (2021-2027) programming period. The next call will be launched in September 2023. Ukrainian project developers will become eligible for CEF Energy and CEF Digital funding for Projects of Common Interest (PCIs) for the EU and third countries.
These many programmes come on top of other flagship EU initiatives, in which Ukraine has actively participated for many years, including:
- Horizon Europe (a key funding programme for research and innovation).
- Creative Europe (a programme to support the culture and audio-visual sectors).
- Erasmus+ (a programme to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe).
I am certain that Ukraine will be able to benefit significantly from these programmes and will use all opportunities for extensive reconstruction, improving Ukrainian lives and bringing Ukraine closer to the European Union, where it belongs.
[i] The author has chosen not to capitalise “russia” or its adjective “russian” in response to the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, as a way of refusing recognition of the russian regime and underlining its isolation from the international community.