The leaders of the European Union reached an agreement this Thursday to deliver 50 billion euros in aid to Ukraine for the next four years after Hungary has withdrawn its veto to the package, as reported by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, within the framework of a summit of EU leaders. The announcement came just an hour after the match began.
“We have an agreement. Unity. The 27 leaders agreed on an additional support package of 50 billion euros for Ukraine within the EU budget,” Michel announced through the social network X shortly after the summit of heads of state began. and Community Government in Brussels.
We have a deal. #Unity
All 27 leaders agreed on an additional €50 billion support package for Ukraine within the EU budget.
This locks in steadfast, long-term, predictable funding for #Ukraine.
EU is taking leadership & responsibility in support for Ukraine; we know what is…
— Charles Michel (@CharlesMichel) February 1, 2024
The President of the Council celebrated that “this guarantees firm, long-term and predictable financing for Ukraine” and that with this “the EU is assuming leadership and responsibility in supporting Ukraine.” “We know what's at stake“, wrote.
Michel's message arrived just a few minutes after the start of a summit of heads of state and government that was preceded by a meeting of the president of the European Council, the Frenchman Emmanuel Macron, the German Olaf Scholz and the Italian Giorgia Meloni with Orbán. to find a solution to the Hungarian blockade, a country allied with Russia.
Viktor Orban (right) greets the Chancellor of Austria at the European summit. Photo: AP
Then the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, and the top leaders of Belgium, Alexander De Croo, the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, and Poland, Donald Tusk, joined.
The Hungarian ultranationalist asked for a mechanism to evaluate aid to Ukraine every year, despite it being a plan until 2027, and have the possibility of veto in each analysissomething that the rest of the partners flatly rejected.
The other 26 Member States maintained the position agreed upon last December of including this aid in the multiannual financial framework to give it stability over the next four years and, if a unanimous agreement had not been reached, they had a plan B to transfer funds to kyiv even without the approval of Budapest.
Orbán will not be able to veto again
Finally, during the meeting prior to the summit It was agreed with Orbán that the leaders debate assistance to Ukraine every year at a summit and that, after two years, they can ask the European Commission to review it.
Protests in front of the summit headquarters. Photo: EFE
However, to make this review or make any change in aid, the approval of all member states will be required, meaning Orbán will not be able to block the assistance package to kyiv again, as explained by several European sources.
In addition, the rest of the leaders have agreed to include a paragraph in the conclusions document that reminds that measures to block funds for attacks on the rule of law (a mechanism that currently keeps 6.3 billion in Budapest blocked) must be “proportionate to the repercussion that have the violation”.
A woman walks in front of riot police in Brussels. Photo: JOHN THYS / AFP
“The European Council has fulfilled our priorities: supporting Ukraine, fighting illegal migration, supporting European competitiveness. A good day for Europe,” celebrated the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, also on the social network x.
The agreed revision of the financial framework includes, in addition to aid to Ukraine, an additional 14.6 billion euros to reinforce the immigration and neighborhood items (9.6 billion), the Solidarity and Emergency Reserve (1.5 billion), the Flexibility Instrument (2,000 million) and for strategic investments (1,500 million), as well as a mechanism in phases to pay the interest on the debt of the recovery fund.
Mercosur and other issues
Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, traveled to Brussels this Thursday to talk about Mercosur with the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and with one demand: suspend negotiations with the South American bloc. So far there is no news on that front.
Belgian farmers' tractors flood the streets on the occasion of the EU summit. Photo: Reuters
This meeting in Brussels takes place in a context of strong peasant demonstrations. The French consider that there is unfair competition within Europe, which would worsen if free trade is allowed with Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay and soon Bolivia. However, the agreement is still in negotiations, and this situation could lead leaders on both sides of the Atlantic to rethink their demands, beyond agricultural and environmental issues.
Caravans with hundreds of farmers aboard tractors arrived this Thursday at the headquarters of the European Union (EU) in Brussels to make the bloc's leaders listen to their complaints about the costs and bureaucracy that affect the activity.
After warming up last night by setting fire to stacks of pallets, the farmers piled into their vehicles and entered the Belgian capital to the roar of engines, firecrackers and blaring horns, the culmination of weeks of protests across the bloc.