© Karlspreis
  • President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people have been awarded the prestigious Charlemagne Prize in Aachen in a ceremony on 14 May.   
  • EIB President Hoyer praises the extraordinary courage and dedication to freedom, 15 months into Moscow's full-scale invasion.
  • The EIB (European Investment Bank) Group stands in unwavering solidarity with Ukraine, having disbursed €1.7 billion in financing and €3.6 million in humanitarian aid since the start of the war.
  • President Hoyer appeals for contributions to the EIB’s EU for Ukraine Trust Fund, to support reconstruction efforts.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the people of Ukraine have been awarded the 2023 Charlemagne Prize for their fight to defend democracy against an unprovoked and unjustified war started by Russia. The award underscores the fact that Ukraine is part of Europe and that its people and government – headed by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy – support and defend European values, and therefore deserve to enter swiftly into accession negotiations with the European Union.

EIB President Werner Hoyer congratulated the people of Ukraine and President Zelenskyy for their commitment to fighting for justice and freedom. “The Russian invasion of Ukraine is an attack on democracy and peace. Russia is not only waging war against Ukraine. This is a war against Europe and the free democratic world”, said President Hoyer. “Awarding this prize to Ukraine and President Zelenskyy pays tribute to their sacrifices in defence of freedom and European values.”

The International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen is the oldest and best-known prize awarded for work done in the service of European unification. The prize is named for Charlemagne, the Frankish king revered by his contemporaries as the “Father of Europe”. Recent winners of the Charlemagne Prize include the Belarusian opposition leaders (2022), UN Secretary General António Guterres (2019), French President Emmanuel Macron (2018), and Pope Francis (2016).

The EIB is proud to be taking part in the events in Aachen – the Charlemagne Prize Europe Forum and the Award Ceremony on 13 and 14 May – and to support the Charlemagne Prize. In 2022, President Hoyer welcomed the award of the Charlemagne Prize to Belarusian civil rights activists Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Veronica Tsepkalo, Maria Kalesnikava and Tatsiana Khomich, who formed an alliance that sought to overthrow the dictatorship after the 2020 elections.

From the first days of the full-scale invasion in 2022, President Hoyer and the EIB Group condemned Russia's brutal war against Ukraine and the unprovoked attack against its people, since mobilising and disbursing €1.7 billion in emergency financing to Ukraine, with the support of the European Commission. An additional €4 billion has been channeled for communities within the European Union that took in Ukrainian refugees. Through the Bank’s philanthropic arm – the EIB Institute (EIBI) – the EIB Group has donated €3.6 million in humanitarian aid packages to help Ukrainian war victims.

Alongside the European Commission, international financial institutions and EU Member States, the EIB has stepped up its support to ensure that Ukraine can recover quickly and continue to develop as a free and democratic nation. As part of this effort, this year the EIB started a new round of fundraising for a new EU for Ukraine Trust Fund that will facilitate the continuation of the EIB’s commitment.

A recent decision by the Italian government to contribute €100 million to the Fund anticipated further support from other EU Member States, the European Commission and other donors to the EU for Ukraine Trust Fund, enabling the EIB to scale up support for war-torn Ukraine, including via financing to repair damaged energy and transport networks, back municipal investment to provide services for displaced people and improve access to finance for Ukrainian entrepreneurs.

“Reconstruction must begin now and cannot wait until the war is over”, President Hoyer argues. “Without electricity, housing, schools, streets and railways the Ukrainian economy would break down completely – and fighting the aggressor would become impossible.”  

The most recent Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment carried out by the Ukrainian government in coordination with the European Union, the United Nations and the World Bank estimated that $14 billion is needed in 2023 for critical investments focused on the most urgent needs before the war is over.

The EIB is working with the Ukrainian authorities to build a solid project pipeline, currently estimated at €2 billion, supporting public services and the recovery of the real economy.

To make these essential projects a reality as soon as possible, EU Member States have recently approved the EU for Ukraine Initiative, including the EU for Ukraine Trust Fund, which will enable the EIB to finance this pipeline. EIB shareholders have also approved €100 million of EIB technical assistance to speed up project implementation and increase impact.

The EU for Ukraine Trust Fund will provide partial guarantees for EIB loans, concessional lending, and impact finance. It will enable the EIB to continue to finance urgent, critical projects under the EU banner until a more permanent funding solution is available.