EU leaders meet to tackle financial aid for Ukraine amid Hungarian opposition
European Union leaders are to convene in Brussels to discuss financial aid for Ukraine, with Hungary's opposition sparking tense negotiations among member states. Stakes are high as the summit approaches.
European Union leaders are set to meet in Brussels on Feb. 1 to once again attempt to reach an agreement on providing financial aid to Ukraine as the country continues to defend itself against Russian aggression. Last month, Hungary vetoed a proposal to extend 50 billion euros ($55 billion) to Ukraine through the EU budget through 2027. The move has sparked tense discussions among the 27 member states as they seek to find a compromise. One of the options being considered is a deal among all 27 EU nations within the joint budget.
However, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has voiced opposition to this, citing concerns about committing funds for years in advance and the unpredictable situation in Ukraine. He has also emphasized that providing support to Kyiv must not harm the EU budget. In response to the proposal, Orban has said he would veto it again, alluding to the possibility of blocking the plan once more. Another option on the table is reaching a deal among the 27 member states outside of the EU budget. This would involve creating a special financial vehicle supported by all member states but separate from their shared budget.
While this alignment with the EU's Plan B has been welcomed by Orban, it is clear that there are still discussions to be had about how to proceed in a way that is agreeable to all parties involved. With Hungary's opposition to the initial proposals, there has been consideration from the other 26 EU countries to move forward without Hungary's full support, highlighting the limits of Orban's obstruction. However, doing so would complicate and increase the cost of providing aid to Ukraine while also undermining the EU's unity in responding to Russia's aggression.
While there is cautious optimism that an agreement will be reached at the upcoming summit, a potential upset is not entirely out of the question. The implications of these discussions also coincide with a larger debate over the rule of law in Hungary and the EU's ongoing feud with Orban's government, further complicating the negotiations surrounding financial aid for Ukraine. As the EU leaders prepare to convene, the stakes are clearly high, with the outcome likely to have a significant impact on Ukraine's ability to weather the conflict with Russia and the EU's internal dynamics.