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Politico: Hungary may lift veto on EU’s four-year Ukraine aid package if aid disbursed and approved yearly

Hungary says it may lift its veto over the €50 billion EU financial assistance package for Ukraine if the aid is disbursed and reviewed each year, granting Orbán influence to block funding annually.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L), Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán in 2015. File photo: Wikimedia Commons.
Politico: Hungary may lift veto on EU’s four-year Ukraine aid package if aid disbursed and approved yearly

After Hungarian strongman PM Viktor Orbán’s veto on the EU’s €50 billion Ukraine aid package, Hungary signals it could withdraw its veto on the assistance on condition the aid gets reviewed and approved annually, giving Orbán yearly opportunities to obstruct funding,  according to Politico referring to three unnamed EU diplomats.

Alongside the prolonged delay in the US Congress approving President Biden’s $50 billion supplemental aid package for Ukraine, Hungary’s veto on the otherwise unanimous EU approval of a four-year €50 billion Ukraine assistance package in mid-December dealt Kyiv a significant blow, benefiting Russia, which is currently waging war against Ukraine.

Politico reports that Budapest has floated a compromise on the EU’s aid to Ukraine, signaling that it might lift its veto if the funding is reviewed yearly:

“In practical terms, this would give Orbán the power to block EU funding to Ukraine every year — or gain concessions from Brussels for withholding his veto,” Politico says.

Budapest’s compromise plan shows that EU leaders’ pressure on Orbán to reconsider before the February 1 summit may be showing signs of success, Politico believes, as it “marks a significant climbdown from Orbán’s rhetoric in recent weeks where he opposed any grants to Ukraine from the EU’s budget.”

According to a compromise put forward by Budapest on 5 January, the EU would provide €12.5 billion annually to Ukraine for four years, equaling the €50 billion total, a diplomat told Politico. However, Hungary insists that the Council unanimously approve each year’s tranche.

This would empower Orbán to potentially obstruct the money every year unless the EU offers concessions. Several diplomats remain skeptical about the workability of yearly budget allocations:

“MFF (the EU’s seven-year budget) is a multiannual framework, we can not do it on a year-to-year basis,” said an EU diplomat.

Earlier reports suggested that the EU was exploring ways to deliver a $55 billion aid package to Ukraine after Hungary’s veto, demanding unanimous approval from member states for the funds’ release. Proposals include member states providing national guarantees to raise funds in financial markets that could circumvent using the EU budget.

Under the EU’s “Plan B,” the bloc’s member states would provide guarantees to the EU budget, enabling the European Commission to borrow up to €20bn for Ukraine next year. Terms are still under discussion, with the final amount based on Ukraine’s needs.

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