Espreso. Global

Hungary may lose €10.2 billion, unfrozen 'for inviting Ukraine to EU’ -  Strasbourg correspondent Tetyana Vysotska

18 January, 2024 Thursday

Strasbourg correspondent Tetyana Vysotska reveals the European Parliament's discussions on plans to enhance military and financial aid for Ukraine, and the Article 7 procedure that might strip Hungary of its European Council voting rights

She shared the information on Espreso TV.

"The key debates on the main session days, Tuesday and Wednesday, were devoted to Ukraine. On Tuesday, they discussed the fulfillment of the European Union's commitments to Ukraine to provide military support, Vice President of the European Commission Maroš Šefčovič addressed the MPs and said that the EU is going to increase military support for Ukraine, and for this purpose, the EU defense industry is again increasing production capacity, and he once again promised that very soon the EU will reach the potential to produce one million rounds of ammunition per year, and this ammunition will be sent to Ukraine, which is important for us. The EU's military support for Ukraine will be discussed at the EU Leaders' Summit in Brussels on February 1, 2024, and Wednesday's key debates in the EU were devoted to preparations for the Summit," the correspondent explained.

Vysotska emphasized that on Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen addressed the parliament. She spoke about providing Ukraine with €50 billion in macro-financial assistance for the next four years, something that Orban blocked in December. However, Ursula believes that the Hungarian leader will still support this decision along with the 26 EU member states.

Orban is to be deprived of his vote and money

"The European Parliament did not really believe that Orban could change and surrender so easily - the European Parliament offers real mechanisms of influence and pressure on Orban. Based on the results of yesterday's debate, a resolution was prepared and put to a vote today on the agenda. First of all, European MPs propose to apply to Hungary and Orban himself the procedure of Article 7, paragraph 2 of the Treaty on European Union, which may ultimately deprive Orban of the right to vote in the European Council, meaning that he simply will not be able to veto Council decisions, including those on Ukraine. The final word is up to the state leaders and the European Council," she explains.

According to the correspondent, the European Parliament plans to appeal the European Commission's unfreezing of funds for Hungary: "We are talking about €10.2 billion, unfrozen just before the EU leaders' summit in December, which is probably why Orban agreed to start negotiations on Ukraine's accession. The European Parliament plans to sue the European Commission in the EU court in Luxembourg to challenge the decision to transfer these funds to Hungary."

Preparing for the European Parliament elections

"On the sidelines of the European Parliament, they emphasize that the rhetoric has changed not only among the MPs in the session hall, but also among European Council members, who can actually see that Orban, and now Fico, are behaving in a way that is completely contrary to European values and aspirations, and therefore it is absolutely realistic that they will now be handled," the correspondent explains.

Vysotska added that aggressive anti-Ukrainian rhetoric is raging in the session hall because of the upcoming European Parliament elections: "Unfortunately, there is a demand in European societies for such radical right-wing statements and political movements. This threat is present, and it may well be that the new composition of the European Parliament will not be as loyal to Ukraine. Another thing is that now the Ukrainian government and the whole of Ukraine should do everything possible to secure as much out of the European Union as possible before June, because Orban is to start presiding over the European Council on July 1."

Hungary's blockade of EU aid to Ukraine

On December 15, Viktor Orban vetoed the EU's decision on a €50 billion budget assistance program for Ukraine.

On December 15, reports indicated that the EU had found a way to circumvent Orban's blocking of €50 billion in aid to Ukraine and set a date for an extraordinary summit.

On December 21, Orban came up with a new explanation for why he opposes Ukraine's accession to the EU. On the same day, he said he was ready to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

On January 9, reports said that Hungary may lift its veto on the EU's €50 billion aid package to Ukraine, provided that the funding is reviewed annually.

On January 10, despite Hungary's opposition, Brussels voted to start negotiations with the European Parliament on providing Ukraine with €50 billion in macro-financial assistance over the next four years.

Orban assured that he was not against helping Ukraine in general, but emphasized that "we must do it in a way that does not harm the EU budget." The Hungarian prime minister insisted that any financial assistance to Ukraine should be separated from the EU budget and proportional to the economies of the member states.

After meeting with his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban in Budapest, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said he supports his "legitimate" fight against changes to the EU budget to allocate €50 billion in aid to Ukraine.

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