Ursula von der Leyen’s comments come as Hungary continues to block a €50 billion package for the country
The EU is considering alternative ways to keep funding Ukraine, in case member states fail to bypass a veto by Hungary, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said. Budapest earlier blocked a €50 billion ($55 billion) assistance package for Kiev amid the conflict with Russia.
Speaking at a press conference with Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo on Friday, von der Leyen stressed that the EU must “urgently move forward on stabilizing our financial aid” to Ukraine.
Reaching a consensus between all 27 member states is the “first priority… But of course we must prepare for other options. These are operational solutions that we are preparing right now,” she said, without giving details.
Von der Leyen recalled that just before Christmas, the EU adopted an €18 billion ($20 billion) support package for Kiev, to help “Ukraine finance their needs for the beginning of this year” and give Brussels some leeway when negotiating the main funding package. “But of course we have to work as hard and as fast as possible to deliver,” the top official added.
Last month, Hungary – which has been consistently critical of the EU’s policy on Ukraine – blocked a €50 billion aid package for Kiev, to be disbursed between 2024 and 2027.
Balazs Orban, an adviser to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, has said Budapest could drop its opposition to the effort if Brussels unblocks all of the €30 billion earmarked for Hungary – which were withheld over a perceived crackdown on democracy. The EU has so far unfrozen only one third of the sum, citing Budapest’s progress on judicial reforms.
The Financial Times reported late last month that the EU was working on a mechanism to bypass the Hungarian veto, that would see member states provide guarantees to the EU budget, thereby allowing Brussels to borrow some €20 billion for Kiev.
An EU special summit on funding Ukraine will take place on February 1. Since the start of the conflict between Moscow and Kiev in February 2022, the EU has provided Ukraine with more than $91 billion in various forms of aid. Russia has repeatedly denounced arms shipments to Kiev, while warning that continued support is becoming a serious burden for EU taxpayers.
January 06, 2024 at 01:00PM