27th Feb 2024

EU fails to agree on €50bn war aid for Ukraine, after Orbán veto

  • EU leaders failed to agree on a new aid package for Ukraine (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)
Listen to article

EU leaders were eager to signal their unwavering support for beleaguered Ukraine, but failed to agree on a €50bn aid package badly needed for the Ukrainian war effort at this Thursday's (14 December) summit in Brussels.

During the evening 26 member states agreed on giving Ukraine more funding. But Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán blocked all compromises and around two o'clock in the morning on Friday, leaders decided to postpone the final decision until 2024.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"We made great progress," said EU Council president Charles Michel.

Already in June, the EU Commission with broad support of its member states had promised to provide Ukraine with a further €50bn until 2027.

Although leaders from 26 member states eventually were able to get behind €17bn in grants and €33bn in loans, much can still change in talks now planned for January.

The night was not a complete failure. however.

Sooner than expected, accession talks were allowed to proceed during negotiations after German chancellor Olaf Scholz asked Hungary's Viktor Orbán to leave the room so that the other 26 countries could legally agree on continuing the enlargement process.

Under EU rules, an abstention does not prevent a decision from being adopted.

"He left the room and at some point, we were able to make a decision," Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said early on Friday morning.

When asked whether this would be the new strategy to deal with dissenting member states, Rutte said: "No, well it is not unusual in the Netherlands either, sometimes someone disappears behind a curtain."

Orbán can still block accession talks next year and said on the sidelines that the EU decision did not change his mind.

"Ukraine is not ready for us to begin negotiations on its EU membership. It's a completely illogical, irrational and improper decision" he said.

Despite this, Thursday's announcement was met with enthusiasm in Kyiv.

"Right now in Ukraine, a lot of us are feeling really uplifted. [This is] a big deal," said Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy on social media. "[This] keeps us going."

On Tuesday, Zelenskyy also visited Washington to plead for the approval of a $60bn [€54bn] package which is struggling to pass through US Congress.

So far, Republicans seem determined to hold up new funding.

"Congress needs to pass the supplemental funding for Ukraine before they break for the holiday break time," said Zelenskyy.

EU agrees Ukraine accession talks as Orbán leaves room

The EU managed to open accession talks with Ukraine despite Hungary's opposition — a decision celebrated by Kyiv and deemed a "historic moment" — after Viktor Orbán did not participate in discussion.

Polish truck protest at Ukraine border disrupts war supplies

Disruption at the Polish-Ukrainian border by disaffected Polish truckers is escalating, potentially affecting delivery of military aid to Ukraine. A Polish request to reintroduce permits for Ukrainian drivers has been described as "a shot to the head" during war.


Belgian PM in Strasbourg, fiscal rules, and Davos This WEEK

Belgian prime minister will outline his country's presidency programme while MEPs discuss neo-fascism, media freedom, and Hungary's veto of Ukraine at the first plenary of 2024. The World Economic Forum in Davos will also take place this week.


How will the Ukraine/Russia war pan out in 2024?

Many Russians are confident in their army, believe it will win the war, approve of their government, and Vladimir Putin has high approval ratings for the presidential election in March. So where does that leave Ukraine?

Orbán could lift Ukraine-aid veto, if his EU funds unfrozen

Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orban told the EU summit he would consider lifting his veto on providing further funds to Ukraine — if the remaining frozen EU funds linked to concerns on Hungary's rule of law are unblocked.


Far-right MEPs least disciplined in following party line

In a fractious parliamentary vote, the level of party discipline often decides the fate of legislation. Party discipline among nationalists and far-right MEPs is the weakest, something potentially significant after the June elections. Data by Novaya Gazeta Europe and EUobserver.

Latest News

  1. MEPs slap three-month ban on foreign ads ahead of EU polls
  2. EU nature restoration law approved after massive backlash
  3. Memo from Munich — EU needs to reinvent democracy support
  4. For Ukraine's sake, pass the EU due diligence directive
  5. All of Orbán's MPs back Sweden's Nato entry
  6. India makes first objection to EU carbon levy at WTO summit
  7. Angry farmers block Brussels again, urge fix to 'unfair' prices
  8. Luxembourg denies blind spot on Nato security vetting

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us