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14 Dec, 2023 10:59

Germany warns of waning Western support for Ukraine

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has proposed dropping unanimity voting requirements for EU enlargement and aid to Kiev
Germany warns of waning Western support for Ukraine

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has blasted Hungary for stalling EU efforts to assist Ukraine and open accession talks. Scholz has suggested holding a majority vote at the European Council Summit on support for Kiev, effectively removing any state's veto power on decision making in the bloc.

His comments come as EU leaders meet on Thursday and Friday to discuss a wide range of issues, including further financial aid to Ukraine, as well as the possible opening of accession talks with Kiev. 

The European Commission initially recommended that the bloc start membership negotiations with Ukraine during the summit, arguing that Kiev had fulfilled most of the requirements to warrant such a step. 

However, the proposed fast-tracking of Ukraine’s accession has been strongly opposed by Hungary, Slovakia, and Austria, who have threatened to block any expedited negotiations. They insist that Kiev still has a long way to go while stressing that the EU itself is not yet ready to receive a new member. Budapest has also threatened to block a €50 billion ($54 billion) EU aid package for Kiev. 

Speaking at the German Bundestag on Wednesday, Scholz blasted Hungary for stalling EU support for Ukraine, arguing that “almost all” EU members wanted to continue providing financial assistance to Kiev. 

The German leader suggested that Hungary should not have the right to veto such initiatives and that more decisions in the EU need to be made by qualified majority, especially when it comes to the enlargement process. 

Scholz warned that Berlin may have to declare an emergency in the country in order to bypass laws governing national debt that could prevent additional assistance being provided to Kiev next year if the situation in Ukraine deteriorates. 

The chancellor vowed to advocate for “sustainable, reliable support for Ukraine, because it is about the security of Europe,” and suggested spending €8 billion ($8.63 billion) on arms for Kiev next year, an unspecified amount on financial aid to the Ukrainian budget, and another €6 billion ($6.47 billion) on support for Ukrainian refugees. 

The German opposition has branded Scholz’s proposal as “financial trickery,” with lawmakers accusing him of abusing legal loopholes to push for more aid to Ukraine. Some have promised to never consent to the bypassing of the debt-brake rule and blasted the German leader for throwing the country’s budget into chaos for the sake of aiding Kiev, which a number of politicians noted has “no chance” of winning the conflict with Russia.