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EU backs down on financial aid to Ukraine

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European Union

European Union (EU) leaders failed to agree on a 50-billion-euro (54.63 billion U.S. dollars) package of financial aid to Ukraine at their summit meeting here on Thursday. The deal was vetoed by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

“Summary of the nightshift: veto for the extra money to Ukraine,” Orban said on social media on Friday.

He also vetoed the review of the bloc’s Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). “We will come back to the issue next year in the European Council after proper preparation,” he wrote.

European Council President Charles Michel had proposed the 50-billion-euro package of financial support to Ukraine, consisting of 17 billion euros in grants and 33 billion euros in loans.

The MFF for 2021-2027 is going through a mid-term review as it has been put under pressure by recent events, such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict, inflation and high interest rates.

Ahead of Thursday’s summit, Orban had said that current financial support for Ukraine was already in the EU budget. However, for longer term financial support, “we have to manage outside the budget, and we support it,” he said.

The 50-billion-euro package garnered support from the other 26 member states of the EU.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he was cautiously optimistic about reaching an agreement with Hungary on the topic early next year.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo shared Rutte’s opinion, underlining that a lot of progress was made on Thursday, and that the 27 EU member states needed a few more weeks to find the best way to move forward with the decision.

Also on Thursday, European leaders agreed to start EU accession talks with Ukraine and Moldova, and to grant Georgia candidate status. The three countries submitted their applications to join the bloc last year.

Orban opposed the opening of accession talks with Ukraine, saying that the country had not fulfilled three out of the seven criteria lined up by the European Commission to be able to open accession negotiations.

The EU leaders continued their summit on Friday. (1 euro = 1.09 U.S. dollar)

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