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Berlin Economics at Café Kyiv

Berlin Economics took part at Café Kyiv on February 27th and organised a panel on economic recovery, as well as a workshop on energy transition.

The panel was moderated by Robert Kirchner, Deputy Head of the German Economic Team. The keynote address was delivered by Professor Timofiy Mylovanov, President of the Kyiv School of Economics and former Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture of Ukraine. He described the economic challenges posed by Russia’s war of aggression, while underlining the resilience of the Ukrainian economy. He stressed the central importance of international support for Ukraine.

Afterwards, Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff, Guido Goldman Distinguished Scholar for Geostrategy at the German Marshall Fund, Maria Repko, Deputy Director of the Centre for Economic Strategy in Kyiv, Heike Freimuth, Head of the Berlin Office of the European Investment Bank, and Reiner Perau, Managing Director of the German-Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce, discussed the economic situation of the country, as well as topics related to reconstruction.

According to Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff, close transatlantic coordination in supporting Ukraine and its reconstruction is of eminent importance. Only the cooperation of the two blocs on both sides of the Atlantic  would make the measures taken for Ukraine fully effective.

Maria Repko described the country’s very difficult economic situation. Russia was deliberately bombing civilian infrastructure. However, thanks to a relatively determined reform course in recent years, the Ukrainian economy is more resilient than initially expected. Nevertheless, the country’s financial needs are enormous. It is important that international aid is disbursed quickly.

The resilience of the Ukrainian economy was confirmed by all participants. Reiner Perau pointed to the importance of the private sector. It would also make an important contribution to reconstruction, but this would require planning security, which could be created, for example, in the form of investment guarantees.

However, it is also clear that it will not work without the support of public institutions. Heike Freimuth described the role of EU and EIB, which were preparing to play a decisive role in the reconstruction process. Both institutions are already heavily involved in the current support for Ukraine, she said.

The reconstruction of the country must not be limited to restoring the status quo, but must also take into account, among other things, climate policy objectives. Of course, this also applies to the country’s energy production. To this end, our Low Carbon Ukraine team organised a workshop. Participants included Iryna Stavchuk, Project Manager Ukraine at the European Climate Foundation, Dr. Yulia Rybak, Co-Head of the Secretariat of the German-Ukrainian Energy Partnership, and Valentyn Bondaruk, Expert for International Cooperation at the German Energy Agency (dena).

Yaroslav Demchenkov, Deputy Energy Minister of Ukraine, explained the guidelines of Ukrainian energy policy in a welcoming message. In his video address, he described the challenges facing the Ukrainian energy sector against the backdrop of Russia’s ongoing attacks. At the same time, he underlined the importance of international support for the promotion of energy security and innovative technologies.

All panellists stressed the Ukrainian government’s commitment to a green energy transition and largely carbon-free power generation. As Iryna Stavchuk pointed out, the future of Ukraine’s energy system will focus on renewable forms of power generation, as well as increased energy efficiency.

In the immediate future, however, the focus would be on repairing damages to Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. Last year, for example, the activities of the German-Ukrainian Energy Partnership had been largely focused on supporting the repair and restoration of destroyed infrastructure, such as grid networks and power plants, said Dr Yulia Rybak.

Nevertheless, all panellists agreed that simply restoring the status quo would not be enough; in the long term, the transition to climate-neutral power generation in Ukraine must succeed. As Valentyn Bondaruk pointed out, this requires a clear vision that the Ukrainian government must develop and pursue.