Author: Lawyer Enrico Germano

In the meantime, the July 4th-5th 2022 Ukraine Recovery Conference (URC2022) in Lugano ended with a fair amount media resonance outside Switzerland. It is as if the international press had not been very interested in the event from the beginning, but it must also be remembered that the G7 summit in Krün in Upper Bavaria in Germany from June 26th to 28th 2022 and the NATO summit in Madrid from June 28th to 30th 2022 had just taken place. The topics of prices of energy supply and the war in Ukraine had already been at the centre of discussions during the two summits. Indeed, there were few prominent international personalities present in Lugano, apart from the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and a representation of the Ukrainian delegation, including Prime Minister Šmyhal’, but with the absence of President Zelensky, who joined the meeting through video conference.1

The President of the Swiss Confederation, Ignazio Cassis, opening the Lugano Conference and issuing a clear warning, recalled “the reconstruction of Ukraine cannot take place without reforms in the areas of corruption and justice”.2 Along the same lines, European Commission President von der Leyen went on to say that “Ukraine will need bold reforms, which will have to go hand in hand with investment”.3

The subject of Ukraine’s reconstruction, which must be inseparable from anti-corruption reforms, was a central, almost premonitory theme of the Lugano Conference4, given also that the European Court of Auditors itself, in its 82-page special report no 23/2021 – Reducing Grand Corruption in Ukraine: Various EU Initiatives, but Still Insufficient Results5 – , well before the war began, recalled how “for many years Ukraine has been plagued by grand corruption and «state capture». Although the EU had launched several initiatives to reduce opportunities for corruption, it was found that grand corruption (including the oligarchic structure) remained a crucial problem in the country”. The international organization Transparency International, which ranked Ukraine only 131st out of 176 countries on corruption perceptions back in 20166, sounded the alarm and cried out about the risk of corruption in Ukraine a few days before the start of the Conference: “Ukrainian institutions are still too weak. Cash aid that comes from abroad may be tempting to corrupt officials. After the Conference on the Reconstruction of Ukraine, attention will have to be paid to the great risk posed by corruption”.7

Antoine Silacci, head of the international section of French Swiss television, reminded during the news on TSR-Télévision de la Suisse Romande at 19:30 on Sunday July 3rd 2022 that at least one thousand billion or if you prefer one trillion Swiss francs will be needed to date for reconstruction in Ukraine, a figure that is obviously growing for each additional day of war. Said sum includes 100 to 200 billion Swiss francs for infrastructure damage (24,000 km of roads, 350 road and rail bridges, 1,500 school buildings, 350 medical and hospital infrastructures, about 40. 000 dwellings), between 500 and 600 billion Swiss francs in losses resulting from the collapse of economic activity, the flight of labor and the collapse of investments, and finally another tens if not hundreds of billions of Swiss francs for long-term damage that is difficult to quantify at present, which will be needed, among other things, for all the wounded and orphans that will have to be taken care of for many years, as well as for the de-mining of all unexploded ordnance. Both the London-based CEPR-Centre for Economic Policy Research and the Ukrainian authorities have highlighted these same figures8. The Ukrainian Prime Minister himself said at the Lugano Conference “Ukraine currently needs USD 750 billion for its reconstruction; most of this money will come from frozen Russian assets”.9

However, the subject of reconstruction is fraught with unknowns. With what and how much money, who will participate and what aspects will be involved in the reconstruction, bearing in mind that the territories to be rebuilt appear for the time being to be largely in the eastern part of the country and under Russian control. Undoubtedly, the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano laid the foundations for the future of the country with the adoption of the ‘Lugano Declaration’, but other conferences and international events will follow elsewhere, which already seem to be competing with each other. Indeed, the British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss envisaged a Marshall Plan for Ukraine and an upcoming conference in London. At the same time, Ursula von der Leyen explained that Olaf Scholz’s Germany would also host a meeting.10








8Cdt del 4 luglio 2022