All 27 European government leaders unexpectedly and quickly agreed to a new €50 billion support package for Ukraine. Hungary, which has long been an opponent, has agreed, according to Charles Michel, head of the Council of Heads of Government. “We have a deal,” he writes on X.
The EU summit, which was supposed to focus on providing funds for Ukraine, had not yet officially started when Michel announced the agreement. The leaders of the EU's Big Three, the President of the European Commission and Michel discussed the topic with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in advance.
Outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte is “very happy with the agreement just reached on support for Ukraine,” X reported from Brussels. As far as Rutte is concerned, the EU’s message to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “is very clear: Ukraine is assured of our support, now and in the future.”
Tensions escalated ahead of the scheduled summit in Brussels. Orban was often obstructionist when it came to supporting Ukraine, but he always got things right at the last minute, with or without concessions.
Last December, the EU summit got off to a successful start. Then there was an unexpected agreement on opening accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova. This appeared to be the biggest challenge in advance, because Hungary appeared to be planning to prevent it.
Aid to Ukraine will soon be subject to greater scrutiny
But Prime Minister Orbán maintained real resistance until negotiations on increasing the EU budget. The other 26 EU countries wanted, among other things, to allocate another 17 billion euros in grants and 33 billion euros in favorable loans to Ukraine over the next four years.
Orban was unwilling to do this, but wanted to arrange it outside the EU budget. “Then he has our support,” the prime minister said in December. EU officials already floated this idea as an alternative plan in November.
Before Thursday's summit, the Hungarian prime minister demanded the option of blocking aid every year with veto power, but others did not want that. EU diplomats say it has now been agreed that the aid will be reviewed regularly. Hungary does not get veto power.
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