Hungary Puts forward Demand for Lifting Veto on 50bn Euros for Ukraine

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Hungary says it may lift its veto on a 50bn-euro aid package from the EU to Ukraine on condition that the funding is reviewed annually. A Politico publication says that. According to three EU diplomats, Budapest said that it could lift its veto on condition that the European Council approved an annual vote for funds allocation. According to the newspaper, this would give Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban the opportunity to block Ukraine’s funding on an annual basis or to get concessions from Brussels for waiving his veto. The article says Hungary formulated the proposal during the meeting of the EU’s 27 budget experts on Friday and sent the relevant document to the EU Council, where Belgium now holds the presidency. According to a diplomat familiar with the negotiations, under the Hungarian proposal, the EU would provide Ukraine with 12.5 billion euros annually in grants and loans, which over four years would amount to the 50 billion euros proposed by the European Commission. Some EU diplomats are skeptical about the proposal, despite a change in Hungary’s rhetoric, which had previously been adamantly opposed to providing funds to Ukraine in any form. They highlight that the Hungarian proposal will not provide predictability for Ukraine. “The EU’s seven-year budget is a multi-year structure, we cannot do this (harmonize. - Ed.) year after year,” one of the diplomats said. The issue of EU funding for Ukraine is on the agenda of the meeting of EU member states ambassadors scheduled for Wednesday. After the December EU Summit, many leaders expressed confidence that the EU would definitely make a decision on financial support for Ukraine at the beginning of the year. In this regard, the leaders agreed on an extraordinary summit dedicated to this issue, which would be held on 1 February. According to media reports, the EU is preparing a “plan B” with 20bn euros of financial aid for Ukraine in case Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban blocks the main 50bn-euro plan. See also EuroPravda’s video blog explanation of how Orban’s veto can be overridden.