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12 Dec, 2023 19:55

EU mulling emergency Ukraine funding to override Hungary veto – FT

Budapest says any cash for Kiev must come from outside of the bloc’s shared budget
EU mulling emergency Ukraine funding to override Hungary veto – FT

European Union (EU) officials are discussing strategies to raise emergency funding for Ukraine separately from the bloc’s shared budget, after Hungary insisted it would not relent in its threat to veto a support package for Kiev, the Financial Times has reported.

Despite pressure from EU members – and from Kiev itself – Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has insisted he will block €50 billion ($54 billion) in financial aid intended to support Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. Orban has argued that Western aid has not yet translated into tangible results, and that a protracted conflict will only serve to cost more lives and inflict further economic damage on the EU bloc.

But ahead of an EU summit on Thursday where issues such as Ukraine funding, as well as the country’s possible accession to the EU, are to be tabled, Budapest signaled that it will not relent.

“Hungary will not change its mind,” the country’s EU minister, Janos Boka, warned according to the FT on Tuesday. “We can talk about the period after the December summit with member states [but] I do not see any factor that would change our decision, which is rooted in principle.”

Boka added that “Ukraine assistance … should be created outside [the EU budget] with member state contributions.”

While packages such as the one proposed by the EU require uniformity across the 27-member bloc, the FT reported on Tuesday that EU officials are seeking possible solutions to overturn Budapest’s veto. One option, the newspaper wrote, was to release bloc funds intended for Budapest that have been frozen over rule of law concerns.

Another, the report says, is being considered in private talks and involves the other 26 EU members forming a financial package for Ukraine which would provide Kiev with emergency funding for the next year. However, the report adds that the talks are being kept secretive so as to not overrule the possibility of persuading Hungary to withdraw its veto.

“Nobody wants to do this if we don’t have to,” one EU source briefed on the talks said, according to FT. “But it would be reckless to not have a plan B.”

Should a financial package not be agreed upon and talks stall over Ukraine’s possible European accession, it would be a “failure of the whole EU,” Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Olga Stefanishyna, said on Monday.