Bilbao, Donostia/San Sebastián and Vitoria-Gasteiz were bilaterally supporting joint projects with Novomoskovsk, Kremenchuk and Nikopol, respectively.

The Basque city councils  advised their counterparts in Ukraine on rebuild and recovery projects to ensure essential services, such as water supply and sanitation, and local economic or urban development.

The “city to city” cooperation were ahead after the study visit of the Ukrainian local authorities to Euskadi, from June 19 to 23, organized by EUDEL and the Association of Ukrainian Cities (AUC).



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 30 Ukrainian cities seriously affected by the Russian attacks.

This international cooperation experience endorsed by the European Commission has an innovative approach; in addition to the CEMF, it has the backing of the Association of Ukrainian Cities  (AUC) and the European U-Lead (Ukraine -Local Empowerment, Accountability and Development) programme.

The terms of the participation of the Basque municipalities in this initiative are set out in the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the EUDEL Chairman and the CEMR Secretary General.

Apart from rebuilding the country, the BRIDGES OF TRUST initiative seeks to strengthen the capacities of Ukrainian local governments for international cooperation and European integration, by sharing inspiring experiences and stories through local action.

Matching between cities

On 15 February 2023, Bridges of Trust was launched with a hybrid event in Brussels.  Up until September 2023, 10 associations of EU local and regional authorities will facilitate 30 municipal partnerships to rebuild Ukraine.

In the case of Association of Basque Municipalities, the CEMR has worked closely with its counterpart (AUC) to drive 3 Basque Country-Ukrainian partnerships:

  • Bilbao – Novomoskovsk (in the Dnipro region).
  • Donostia/San Sebastián – Kremenchuk (in the Poltava region).
  • Vitoria-Gasteiz – Nikopol (in the Dnipro region).

Expected results:

  • Knowledge of the local government system of the Basque Country, multilevel collaboration and possible application of the best practices in Ukraine
  • Greater awareness and capacity for intermunicipal cooperation among Ukrainian local government officials
  • Better skills and expertise in project planning and development, with a focus on rebuild projects for Ukrainian municipalities
  • Strengthening associations and relations between the local governments of Ukraine and the Basque Country on the basis of shared experiences and lessons learnt
  • Development of specific ideas and plans for joint rebuild projects between the municipalities of Ukraine and (name of the country) with possible future presentation of projects for European, state and regional financing

Fact-finding missions and meetings between local representatives

A milestone of the programme was the setting up of fact-finding missions by the three Ukrainian municipalities to the three Basque capitals to learn on the ground about their success stories and best practices, which could be applied to rebuilding Ukraine.

The fact-finding missions was an opportunity for face-to-face meetings between local representatives and to build ties of solidarity and support between the Basque Country and Ukraine.

In April, several remote meetings were held to agree on the themes and scope for the joint design of city-to-city cooperation projects.

Cooperation framework

Each of the partnerships will work on a collaborative thematic area:

The Bilbao-Novomoskovsk partnership worked on water supply and sanitation, drawing on the experience of the Bilbao Bizkaia Water Consortium.

Donostia/San Sebastián and Kremenchuk  focused on the development of the capacities, tools and processes needed to receive and manage European funds aimed at rebuilding and modernising the city, and on designing and managing urban transformation projects.

Vitoria-Gasteiz and Nikopol worked together on sustainability, in areas such as energy efficiency, urban green infrastructure and waste management, along with municipal planning regarding sustainable development.

FURTHER INFORMATION: Information on the Bridges of Trust Programme