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"Marshall Plan for Ukraine"? When it comes to the core problem, Scholz is unusually specific

The commercial is intended to exude optimism.

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"Marshall Plan for Ukraine"? When it comes to the core problem, Scholz is unusually specific

The commercial is intended to exude optimism. Drone images show summery, vibrant Kyiv, people flocking to work, traffic on intact highways. They are pictures from the past few years - pictures that should soon be the norm again. Namely, after the end of the war, in a rebuilt Ukraine.

The situation is a bit paradoxical. It's been exactly eight months to the day since the Russian attack. There is no end in sight to the conflict.

But in the German capital on Monday it is not about the course of the front, arms deliveries or even peace treaties. A good half of the German government is visiting the Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

In addition to Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) and Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) will speak with representatives of the Ukrainian government and German companies.

It is clear to everyone present that the reconstruction of the country will be a task for decades. Because not only many cities are partially destroyed. The target of the Russian attacks is again and again the infrastructure, for example electricity and power plants, railways, ports and industrial plants.

200 rockets and drones have been aimed at these targets in the last few weeks alone, said the Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Schmyhal. Even schools, hospitals and public cultural institutions were not spared.

The economic situation is catastrophic. Not only is there no end to the war in sight. As a result of the Russian attacks, the economy of Ukraine collapsed in the summer, as WELT reported at the time.

Yulia Svyrydenko, Economic Development and Trade Minister, expects unemployment to rise to 30 percent by the end of the year and an economic slump that is at least as great. Nevertheless, she is optimistic: "After the war, many areas of the economy will develop well," she says.

State-owned companies are currently being privatized in order to open them up to foreign investments. Michael Kraus, manager of the building materials dealer Fixit, is also optimistic. The German medium-sized company recently set up a second location in western Ukraine. “There are always power outages and air raid alarms. But the economy works.”

According to DIHK representative Hans Ulrich Engel, who presented the "Rebuild Ukraine" dossier, it was a mistake to wait until the end of the war with plans for reconstruction. Its five focal points are securing electricity, heat and water supplies for the winter, securing added value and local production, an incentive system for foreign investments, an international alliance for reconstruction and finally the recognition of the EU accession prospects for Ukraine and thus integration into their internal market.

Prime Minister Denis Schmyhal spoke of "incredible opportunities" that would arise for European companies through investments and cooperation. Sectors such as the energy sector and IT are growth candidates. Agriculture also offers a "guaranteed return" for investments. Schmyhal put the financial needs for reconstruction at $750 billion.

Economics Minister Robert Habeck has a “Marshall Plan for Ukraine” in mind. "But the acute winter aid has priority," he says. "As a result of the attacks on the energy infrastructure, people are sitting in cold apartments with no water and no electricity."

Putin is aiming to get more Ukrainians to flee to the EU. In these cases, existing relief funds would function “pragmatically”. "Then the European energy ministers make calls and consult: Who else has a generator somewhere," says Habeck. "Direct aid is about a lot of money, but we are talking about solvable sums."

Specifically, the Minister of Communications Oleksii Chernyshov puts the need for power generators at 25,000 units, for example. Habeck spoke of Ukraine as a potential "premium partner in chemistry and energy" after the end of the war. "Every commitment to tying Ukraine more closely to the internal market is worthwhile."

"Real reconstruction of Ukraine requires a resilient capital fund from the international donor community," said DIHK President Peter Adrian. "In order for such a fund to function successfully, a high degree of transparency and participation options are required according to modern standards."

What's between the lines: Ukraine has a corruption problem. Chancellor Scholz, on the other hand, was unusually specific on this topic: more transparency and a more determined fight against corruption are necessary, he said.

“Ukraine is part of the European family. I take this commitment very seriously," said Scholz. "Anyone who invests today is investing in a future member country." In addition to reconstruction, the goal is, for example, to increase the efficiency of the power plants in order to "be climate-neutral" and to increase the volume of energy exports to the West.

Minister Schulze also spoke of climate protection. “The extent of the destruction is gigantic. I know that the reconstruction has to be quick and sustainable at the same time," she said. Things should be done quickly, for example, when wooden modular buildings are mass-produced.

In spite of, or perhaps because of, the general optimism at the conference, many questions remain unanswered in the end, such as that of reconstruction in the areas annexed by mock referendums. The issue of the extent to which European countries and companies can invest at all in view of the crisis was also avoided. The question of reparations payments by Russia was left out for the time being.

"Everything on shares" is the daily stock exchange shot from the WELT business editorial team. Every morning from 5 a.m. with the financial journalists from WELT. For stock market experts and beginners. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Amazon Music and Deezer. Or directly via RSS feed.

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