EU Council and aid to Ukraine, yes to the 50 billion agreement

The agreement on the assistance package for Kiev arrives after a night and a day of pressure on the Hungarian leader Orban. The ‘compromise’ with the addition of two points in the summit conclusions. Zelensky: “Grateful to the EU, now hurry up”

Aid to Ukraine, the agreement arrives between the 27 leaders today at the extraordinary European Council. The heads of state and government meeting in Brussels have in fact found a “27” agreement on macro-financial assistance to Kiev for 50 billion euros. He announces it the President of the European Council Charles Michel via social media, shortly after the Council formally began and at the end of a six-party meeting.

“We have an agreement – he says -, unity. All 27 leaders have agreed on an additional 50 billion euro support package for Ukraine within the EU budget. This guarantees constant, long-term and predictable funding for Ukraine. The EU is taking leadership and responsibility in supporting Ukraine; we know what is at stake.”

EU sources: “No Orban veto on aid, compromise with inclusion of two points in summit conclusions”

The agreement was made possible by a compromise, which was apparently devised by the President of the EU Council Michel and the French President Macron, based on theinclusion of two points in the conclusions of the summit. EU sources explained this on the sidelines of the meeting. The compromise was proposed in the meeting before the European Council this morning, after which Michel read it in the room and asked if there were any objections, which no one raised. Hungary did not get “any veto”, the sources underline. In the first point, “if necessary”, the European Council invites the Commission to present a proposal for the revision, within two years, of the Mff 2021-27.

The decision to invite the Commission to present this proposal should probably be taken unanimously, even if this detail is not yet absolutely certain (we will have to wait for the text). In the second, the European Council recalls its conclusions of December 2020, when the then Chancellor Angela Merkel managed to convince Viktor Orban and Mateusz Morawiecki to remove the veto on the MFF 2021-27, which they had placed due to the protection mechanism of EU budget from violations of the rule of law. In those conclusions, which are formally recalled today, the European Council underlined two things in particular. First, “the application of the conditionality mechanism (…) will be objective, fair, impartial and fact-based, ensuring due process, non-discrimination and equal treatment of Member States”.

Second, “the measures provided for by the mechanism will have to be proportionate to the impact of breaches of the rule of law on the sound financial management of the Union budget or on the financial interests of the Union”. Furthermore, “the causal link between such violations and the negative consequences on the financial interests of the Union must be sufficiently direct and duly established. The simple finding of a violation of the rule of law is not sufficient to activate the mechanism”. Hungary still has around 20 billion in EU funds frozen by the Commission for various reasons, including the rule of law conditionality mechanism.

Regarding the first pointEU sources confirm, any invitation from the European Council to the Commission to present a proposal for the revision of the Mff 2021-27 in two years would require a unanimous decision by the 27 heads of state and government.

The two points added to the conclusions should be seven and thirty. The first states that “on the basis of the Commission’s annual report on the implementation of the instrument on Ukraine, the European Council will hold a debate every year on the implementation of the instrument, with a view to providing guidelines”. So far, we are dealing with the compromise proposal that had been discussed in the technical session and which in Budapest did not seem sufficient to sign an agreement. It is added that “if necessary, in two years the European Council will invite the Commission to make a proposal for revision, in the context of the next Mff”. The second point says that “the European Council recalls its conclusions of December 2020 on the application of the conditionality mechanism”.

Zelensky: “Grateful to the EU, now hurry up”

The green light from the European Council “is a clear signal that Ukraine will resist and that Europe will resist”, said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a video link to the Brussels summit. “It is also very important that this decision was taken unanimously by all of you, by all 27 member states. It is yet another clear sign of your strong unity and support for Ukraine,” the Ukrainian president continued, expressing his “gratitude”.

“The EU’s continued financial support to Ukraine – he added – will strengthen long-term economic and financial stability, which is no less important than military assistance and sanctions pressure on Russia”.

“Russian aggression against Europe, initiated by Moscow on the European front, has now been strengthened by another Russian accomplice, namely North Korea’s artillery shells and ballistic missiles”, the Ukrainian president then denounced in video link with the Brussels summit. “Intelligence confirms that Russia will receive one million artillery shells from Pyongyang,” Zelensky explained, underlining delays in the implementation of the European plan for “the supply of one million artillery shells to Ukraine.” “This too – continued the president – is a sign of global competition, in which Europe cannot afford to lose”.

“And that is why your unity in creating the Assistance Fund for Ukraine within our European Peace Facility is so needed today. This is the kind of reliability and long-term support we must now offer to address the corresponding challenges. No less than 5 billion euros per year, for a duration of 4 years. A clear priority”, Zelensky further added, addressing the leaders.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba then said he was ”grateful to the European Council for having approved the decision to establish a 50 billion euro instrument for Ukraine in the period 2024-2027. This is a step of historic proportions”. In a tweet Kuleba wrote that this decision ”demonstrates that any talk of alleged ‘fatigue’ or ‘declining support’ is simply false”.

The head of Kiev’s diplomacy then added that ”Europe has once again demonstrated its strength and ability to make important decisions independently of others. The EU is leading the way and setting an example for the rest of the world to follow. This is also a clear indication that Putin’s hopes of surviving the determination of Ukraine and the world are in vain. I am deeply grateful to all the EU Foreign Ministers who contributed to this success”.

The pressure on Orban

EU leaders and leaders pressed Viktor Orban last night and yesterday. European leaders had tried to soften the Hungarian prime minister’s position on the issue who had said ‘no’ at the last Council meeting in December. Negotiations on the European budget therefore continued to the bitter end. The leaders’ objective was to convince Orban to drop the veto on the aid package for Ukraine envisaged in the new multiannual financial framework.

“Final countdown towards the European Council. Consultations underway”, wrote the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, on X, posting a photo of him at the table together with some European leaders before the start of the EU summit. In the image, in addition to the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, French President Macron, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the Prime Minister of Hungary appear.

Meloni-Orban double match

Last night, in a hotel located in the heart of Brussels, there was a long negotiation between Meloni and the head of the Budapest government who also met the French president Emmanuel Macron. New meeting also this morning, therefore, between Meloni and Orban.