• The European Commission is the driving force behind this groundbreaking and solidarity initiative to set up 30 city-to-city partnerships between the EU and Ukraine.
  • Bilbao and Novomoskovsk, Donostia/San Sebastián and Kremenchuk, and Vitoria-Gasteiz and Nikopol will work in partnership to help provide the Ukrainian population with basic services such as water and sanitation, or to drive urban and economic development after the war.
  • Ukrainian authorities will travel to the Basque Country next week as part of a fact-finding mission to learn about the infrastructures and good practices of the three Basque capitals.

14 June 2023. EUDEL is one of the ten local government associations selected by the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) to take part in the Bridges of Trust initiative, which will help to rebuild the Ukrainian cities most affected by the Russian attacks. The city councils of Bilbao, Donostia/San Sebastián and Vitoria-Gasteiz are on the list of 30 European cities that have stepped forward to support Ukraine.

A triple alliance has been set up in the Basque Country. Bilbao will work with Novomoskovsk and Vitoria with Nikopol, respectively; both cities are in the south-east region of Dnipro, the closest to Zaporizhzhia. Donostia will work with Kremenchuk in Poltava, in the central-eastern part of Ukraine.

Under the umbrella of the European Commission and the U-Lead with Europe programme, this is a groundbreaking and innovative experience in EU’s approach to city-to-city international cooperation. Coordination with the Association of Ukrainian Cities (AUC) and the different European associations is fundamental to forge local partnerships in each country.

In February this year, EUDEL embarked on this project, along with nine other associations: Spain, France, Italy, Sweden, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Latvia and Czechia. The Bridges value goes beyond ties of solidarity; its general goal is to join forces and involve the largest number of EU municipalities in the rebuilding. In turn, the aim is also to strengthen the capacities of local governments for the European integration of Ukraine.

U-Lead is focusing on the search for financing to drive and continue the cooperation projects with this medium- and long-term “roadmap”.

Cooperation Projects

The Basque Country-Ukraine cooperation will take the form of three specific rebuilding projects for each city: restoring the water supply and sanitation network, in the case of Bilbao and Vitoria, and economic development and urban transformation, in the case of Donostia.

The Basque capitals will be working with the Bilbao Bizkaia Water Consortium, AMVISA (Vitoria-Gasteiz Municipal Water Company) and the municipal company Fomento de San Sebastián on the projects. The technical team of each entity will provide its experience and good practices to advise its Ukrainian counterpart and design the project together. The aim is also to involve the partner agencies in the implementation phase.

Matching cities and war situation

  • Bilbao – Novomoskovsk (69,855 inhabitants as o 1/1/2022)

Project: Rebuilding and improving the water supply, sewage and wastewater treatment networks. In consultation with Bilbao Bizkaia Water Consortium.

Novomoskovsk’s economic development has been bolstered by its vantage point at the crossroads of three industrial regions and of several communication routes – by water, rail and road -.

During the invasion, the heavy bombing of oil facilities and fuel tanks caused serious property damage, along with many dead and wounded.

  • Donostia/San Sebastián – Kremenchuk (215,271 inhabitants as of 1/1/2022)

Project: Impetus and strategy for economic development, urban transformation and management of European projects. In consultation with Fomento de San Sebastián.

Important sectors in Kremenchuk’s economy are vehicle manufacturing and processing petroleum, and the city is well positioned along oil and gas pipelines. It also has two large universities, one public and one private.

The 27th of June will be the first anniversary of the missile strike on the largest shopping mall, which caused the highest number of dead in the city.

  • Vitoria-Gasteiz – Nikopol (105,200 inhabitants as of 1/1/2022)

Project: Rebuilding and improving the water supply, sewage and wastewater treatment networks. In consultation with AMVISA.

Before the war, Nikopol was one of the largest industrial centres in Ukraine. It is on the Dnieper River, a short distance from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, a strategic point in the war. The latest serious attack was this June, with the destruction of the Kakhovka dam and of the hydroelectric power plant. The situation is a humanitarian and natural emergency, affecting the supply of drinking water and energy to the people of the region.

Fact-finding mission 19-23 June

After several online meetings, a delegation of local authorities from Novomoskovsk, Kremenchuk and Nikopol will be in the Basque Country from 19 to 23 June to lay the foundation stone of their respective “bridges” with the three Basque capitals. The city councils Bilbao, Donostia/San Sebastián and Vitoria-Gasteiz will host their Ukrainian counterparts, who will be accompanied by representatives of the Association of Ukrainian Cities (AUC).

EUDEL will host the opening and closing meetings of the visit on Monday 19 and Friday 23 June. On 20, 21 and 22 June, the delegation will be divided into three groups to hold the bilateral meetings and learn about the experience of each city.

The councils of the three capitals and the facilitators (CABB, AMVISA and Fomento San Sebastián) have designed their own programme of activities, which includes institutional meetings and visits to the cooperation project’s infrastructures, as well as to other iconic spaces and amenities of the city.