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Swedish Reform Cooperation with Ukraine

Sweden is one of a few countries that allocates one percent of its gross national income to development cooperation and humanitarian aid, worldwide.

In 2014, Sweden launched a Regional Strategy for Cooperation with Eastern Europe, the Western Balkans, and Turkey, in which Ukraine is the biggest recipient. The strategy focuses on reforms in three main areas. Its aims are to:

  • Enhance economic integration with the EU and develop the market economy;
  • Strengthen democracy and respect for human rights and a more fully developed state under the rule of law;
  • Improve the environment, reduce climate impact and enhance resilience to environmental impact and climate change.

Sweden is a longstanding partner to Ukraine. Since 1995, Sweden has invested significant political, financial and human resources in the country Ukraine. In 2014 – 2020, the overall reform cooperation with Ukraine will amount to approximately 175 million euro. That makes Sweden the 7th largest donor in the country. In addition to that, Sweden also supports reforms in Ukraine through the European Union.

The reform cooperation is channelled through and implemented by international and Swedish organisations such as the United Nations (UN), the World Bank, the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR), and the Estonian E-Governance Academy. Sweden also provides institutional and project support to non-governmental and media organisations.

The main areas of Swedish reform cooperation with Ukraine are: 

  • Inclusive Economic Growth
  • Environment and Energy Efficiency
  • Strengthened Democracy and Human Rights
  • Gender Equality
  • Free and Independent Media
  • Civil Society
  • Public Administration Reform
  • Peacebuilding and Recovery, including Humanitarian Aid

Inclusive Economic Growth

Within this area, Swedish support is focused on improving the regulatory environment for firms, in particular, small and medium-sized enterprises, with a special focus on Ukraine’s Association Agreement, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, with the EU. Current projects focus on banking sector reform, innovation, and entrepreneurship, supporting agricultural exports to the EU and improving regulatory legislation, aimed at enhancing an economic growth which is distributed fairly in the society and creates opportunities for all. Apart from project support, Sweden provides grants to economic think tanks in this area, as well as funding to the Kyiv School of Economics and the Beetroot Academy.

Main partners: World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Swedish-Ukrainian NGO Beetroot Academy, Kyiv School of Economics, International Trade Centre.

Environment and Energy Efficiency

The objective of Swedish support in this area is to support Ukraine in its efforts to increase compliance with EU regulations and international agreements on the environment, climate, and energy. Efforts are made to promote enhanced environmental responsibility among the public, the business sector and civil society.

Sweden provides investment grants for environmental projects through the Eastern Europe Energy Efficiency and Environment Partnership (E5P), allocates technical assistance and works with framework programmes of international financial institutions such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO) within areas such as modern district heating and renewable energy, energy efficiency in buildings, water and sewage and waste management. Support is also provided through environmental civil society organisations.

Main partners: European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Nordic Environment Finance Corporation, International Charitable Organisation Environment-People-Law

Strengthened Democracy and Human Rights, including the Rule of Law

Within this area of cooperation, Sweden focuses on strengthening democracy, respect for human rights and a more fully developed state under the rule of law through institutional support to civil society organisations that work in the sphere of human rights and cooperation with the Council of Europe and the European Union Advisory Mission Ukraine for Civilian Security Sector Reform (EUAM). One example is the project of the Council of Europe “Support to implementation of the judicial reform in Ukraine”. This project provided expertise and advice to the High Council of Justice, the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine and the Public Integrity Council during the selection of judges to the new Supreme Court. Sweden is also providing institutional support to the Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law, the Centre for Civil Liberties and Docudays UA International Documentary Human Rights Festival.

Main partners: Council of Europe, Docudays UA International Documentary Human Rights Festival, Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law, Centre for Civil Liberties

Gender Equality

Ensuring that women and girls can enjoy their fundamental human rights is both an obligation each state has towards its citizens and a prerequisite for reaching broader goals on peace and security and sustainable development. Sweden is a lead gender equality donor in Ukraine and a vocal advocate for gender equality in all of society.

Within this area, Sweden supports the establishment of a comprehensive national gender equality machinery and the implementation of Ukraine’s Women, Peace, and Security commitments, promotes a gender-aware budget process in Ukraine, supports a capacity-building initiative for women’s rights organisations and paves the way to increased participation of women in the political processes. Apart from these concrete initiatives, gender equality is an integral part of all projects supported by Sweden.

Main partners: UN Women, the Swedish NGO Kvinna till Kvinna, National Democratic Institute (NDI)

Free and Independent Media

The support in this area focuses on public broadcasting, strengthening the legal framework, particularly the media commitments of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, media literacy, enhancing business management of media outlets and increasing their sustainability and catering for the information needs of IDPs.

The current media portfolio includes two programmes with the National Public Broadcasting Company, including an organisational audit for the institution and a peer-to-peer four-year programme with Sweden’s Public Service Broadcaster. Furthermore, Sweden implements project support programmes to Detector Media, a key media watchdog organisation, the Independent Association of Broadcasters of Ukraine, a professional association of regional/community media and the independent media outlet Hromadske TV.

Main partners: National Public Broadcasting Company (UA:Suspilne), the NGO Detector Media, Independent Association of Broadcasters, Hromadske TV, Swedish Radio Development Media Office (SR MDO).

Civil society

The main goal of the programme is a stronger, more effective and sustainable civil society through enhanced technical, organisational, adaptive and influencing capacities of civil society organisations.

Institutional support is often used to ensure that considerable transformations are made in governance and financial control structures, anti-corruption, and procurement policies, which lay a solid ground for organisational transparency and sustainability in the longer term.

Main partners: Reanimation Package of Reforms Civic Coalition, Think Tanks Development Initiative, Gurt Resource Centre for NGOs, Centre UA CSO, International Renaissance Foundation, Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law. 

Public Administration Reform including Public Finance Management and Decentralisation

The main goal within this area is a strengthened and more efficient public administration with administrative capacity to implement reforms for EU integration and delivery of higher quality public services.

The decentralisation reforms focus on establishing viable municipalities with the right to deliver the most basic administrative services and carry out local self-government service reform based on European principles. Public finance management support focuses on increasing transparency and accountability of public finances and promoting reforms of the budget process and tax system of Ukraine.

Main partners: Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR), E-Governance Academy of Estonia, Folke Bernadotte Academy, Ministry of Finance of Ukraine, Council of Europe.

Peacebuilding and Recovery, including Humanitarian Aid

In light of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, Sweden has taken substantial steps to increase support towards the crisis-affected areas of Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts and strengthening coordination of recovery efforts. This is done through both a local and national approach, working at the policy level but also ensuring that support is directly targeting those most affected. The priorities within the portfolio are to provide humanitarian aid where it is most needed, to mobilize and empower women and men in the most affected areas; to support community participation in decision-making, to address community needs and to strengthen accountability for human rights violations.

Main partners: United Nations Development Program, World Bank, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, OSCE SMM, International Committee of the Red Cross, Danish Refugee Council, Danish Demining Group.

If you want to learn more about Swedish reform cooperation with Ukriane, download our booklet.