EU summit: Discussions on financial aid for Ukraine postponed until early 2024
European Union leaders broke up their Brussels summit on Thursday night without agreeing on future financial aid for Ukraine. Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán continued his objection. Leaders hope to reach an agreement with all 27 member states early next year.
"We agree with 26 member states. There is still no agreement with Hungary, but I am cautiously optimistic that it will be possible next year," said Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte.
Rather than continue negotiations before Friday, Rutte said it would be better to let the discussion rest for a while. A new attempt will be made at a special summit in January. "We still have some time," he said. "Ukraine will not run out of money in the next few weeks."
Grants and cheap loans
Orbán is the only leader to oppose a European Commission proposal to give Ukraine 17 billion euros in grants and 33 billion euros in low-cost loans over the next four years. The populist leader, who still maintains close ties with Moscow, is questioning long-term support for Ukraine and opposes European budget money flowing into the country.
According to Rutte, European leaders were reluctant to sideline Hungary and make a deal with 26 member states to give money to Ukraine. "It would require intergovernmental agreements outside the European treaties, which is extremely complex," he said.
The aid for Ukraine is part of a broader review of Europe's multiannual budget until 2027, with 26 members backing the latest proposal by Commission president Charles Michel. He proposed adding around 4 billion euros to Kyiv's 17 billion euro budget for migration policy. Combined with reallocations within the current multiannual budget, around 9 billion euros would be available for border control and migration partnerships with third countries.
Member states would have to contribute an additional 21 billion euros to the European budget over four years. This is less than a third of the 66 billion euros the European Commission had asked for before the summer break to strengthen the budget after a series of crises. For Belgium, the bill would fall from more than 2 billion euros to 700 million euros over four years.
© PHOTO KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP