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Submitted by JP on Fri, 12/15/2023 - 03:57
Hungary blocks €50bn in EU aid for Ukraine

Hungary has obstructed the European Union's endorsement of a financial assistance package for Ukraine consisting of 50 billion euros ($55 billion). Prime Minister Viktor Orbán vetoed financial aid just hours after allowing bloc to start membership talks with Kyiv.

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives for a European Council in Brussels. Photo by OLIVIER MATTHYS/PAP/EPA

Negotiations on the funding, essential for maintaining Ukraine's financial stability through 2024, have broken down. This comes after the US Congress repeatedly failed to reach consensus on a $60 billion aid package put forth by the White House.

Efforts to persuade Orbán to accept the financial package, including a final push by leaders from Germany, France, Poland, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands, proved unsuccessful. The obstruction from Budapest dealt a significant setback to Kyiv and its supporters, occurring just hours after they had celebrated the European Union's symbolic decision to initiate membership talks.

At first, Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán opposed both decisions, but following a suggestion from German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to "grab a coffee outside the room", he acquiesced and exited the negotiating room. This move allowed other EU leaders to reach a consensus on accession without his presence. EU leaders and diplomats denied offering any concessions to Orbán in exchange for his departure at this crucial juncture, emphasizing that the decision was made by the remaining EU26 members. 

On the night from Thursday to Friday, the head of the government in Budapest Viktor Orbán claimed victory on the official profile on the X platform (formerly Twitter). published a "summary of the night shift." "Veto for the new financial aid package for Ukraine, veto against the MFF [European Multiannual Financial Framework] revision. We will return to this issue next year after appropriate preparations," we read in the post by the Hungarian Prime Minister. On Wednesday the European Commission agreed to unblock €10 billion for Hungary. PM Viktor Orbán has yet to secure access to an additional €21 billion.

Upon concluding the summit, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz expressed confidence to reporters that Ukraine would secure the committed funding from 26 out of the 27 EU members, even if Hungary persists in obstructing the initiative. "Actually I'm rather confident that we really will reach a deal in January," Olaf Scholz said. He added that should Viktor Orban veto the aid project once again, the European Union would explore alternative means to assist Ukraine. "We have alternative avenues to support Ukraine," he remarked. EU officials had also considered this possibility, with bilateral aid being mentioned as one potential mechanism.