NewsEU leaders greenlight $54 billion support package for Ukraine after overcoming Hungarian opposition

EU leaders greenlight $54 billion support package for Ukraine after overcoming Hungarian opposition

The Union will give Ukraine 50 billion euros. Orban explains why he stopped blocking the decision.
The Union will give Ukraine 50 billion euros. Orban explains why he stopped blocking the decision.
Images source: © PAP | Leszek Szymański
4:59 PM EST, February 1, 2024

In a social media post, Viktor Orban stated that financial aid negotiations for Kyiv were halted in December due to Budapest failing to resolve two of its pressing issues.

"We feared that the EU money, which the European Commission has not granted us previously, would, sooner or later, end up in Ukraine," Orban said. "We also worried about offering funds to Ukraine for an extended period without any control – he added. He stated that Budapest received a satisfactory offer after lengthy negotiations and decided to accept it. He said the market and business community's reaction to this agreement is already positive.

$54 billion for Ukraine

"We have an agreement," announced the European Council's head, Charles Michel, after deciding to support Ukraine. "All 27 leaders agreed on an additional support package for Ukraine worth 50 billion euros ($54 billion, rounded) under the EU budget. This ensures stable, long-term, and predictable financing for Ukraine. The EU is taking the lead and responsibility for supporting Ukraine. We understand the stakes," he assured.

The proposal also included an amendment to the EU budget for 2021-2027, which, among other things, allows funds for migration and border management to be increased by 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion, rounded), for neighborhood policy - by 7.6 billion euros ($8.3 billion, rounded), and for the European Defense Fund - by 1.5 billion euros ($1.6 billion, rounded).

In December, despite the EU and Ukraine initiating accession talks, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban vetoed the transfer of 50 billion euros ($54 billion, rounded) in aid from the Union and the revision of the EU budget for 2021-2027. Therefore, the European Council's President called for a special EU summit in Brussels on February 1st to reach an agreement with Orban.

Simultaneously, within the EU, work started on an alternative plan where 26 countries agreed to help Ukraine without Hungary's involvement.

The agreement on support for Ukraine was reached after negotiations within a small group before the summit's official start. Charles Michel, President of the European Council, and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, had a private meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, alongside the leaders of France, Germany, and Italy - Emmanuel Macron, Olaf Scholz, and Giorgia Meloni. They were later joined by the Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte, the head of the Polish government Donald Tusk, and the Prime Minister of Belgium, Alexander De Croo.

Donald Tusk: "there were no worries"

"The fact that all Scandinavian countries, the Baltic countries, Poland, and Ireland maintained such clear positions, especially towards Viktor Orban, and this whole group was ready for tough decisions, and the firm position that the EC head Ursula von der Leyen has had since the very beginning, meant that there were no concerns that the commission would be looking for compromises or rewards for anyone in this process," commented Donald Tusk after the summit.

In his view, "this firm position led to the withdrawal of ideas like 27 countries - including Hungary - agreeing on the MFF (Multiannual Financial Framework), which means the entire project, but excluding Ukraine, and that aid for Ukraine would be handled by twenty-six countries".

As reported by Politico, European leaders managed to persuade Viktor Orban with three additions to the summit conclusions. Firstly, the European Commission will prepare an annual report on the implementation of the Ukrainian aid package. Secondly, an annual debate about the matter will be held at the EU leader level. Lastly, "if necessary," the European Council will ask the Commission in two years to propose a review of the package's implementation.

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