Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

The tone is rising between Brussels and Budapest, which opposes an envelope of 50 billion euros that the EU wants to send to Kiev.

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Analysis | Aid to Ukraine: the patience of the European Union tested by Hungary | War in Ukraine

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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is expected to attend the Council meeting European.

  • Raphaël Bouvier-Auclair (View profile)Raphaël Bouvier-Auclair

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The last meeting, in December, ended in an impasse. The leaders of the European Union (EU) countries failed to agree on adopting new financial support of 50 billion euros for Ukraine.

In fact, 26 out of 27 agreed. But, unanimously, only one member country managed to block the envelope: Hungary.

A new meeting therefore had to be set, hence the meeting of presidents and prime ministers in Brussels on Thursday.

Of all European leaders, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has the closest ties with Russia. While other countries have almost completely cut off relations with Moscow, Hungary continues to import Russian gas.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto has visited Moscow several times, although until recently he had never set foot in Ukraine, a country visited by many of its European counterparts over the past two years.

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The Hungarian Foreign Minister met his Ukrainian counterpart, as well as an advisor to President Volodymyr Zelensky.

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This week, the head of Hungarian diplomacy finally crossed the border which separates his country from Ukraine. The meeting, which was also attended by Ukraine's foreign minister and an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky, was aimed at easing long-standing tensions between the two neighbors.

kyiv criticizes Budapest for its veto on European aid. The government of Viktor Orbán, for its part, accuses the Ukrainian authorities of not treating the Hungarian minority living in Ukraine well enough.

Although symbolically strong , the diplomatic meeting did not provide a clear idea of ​​Budapest's intentions regarding Brussels' new attempt to release an aid budget intended for Ukraine.

In an article published a few days ago, the newspaper Financial Timesreported that the European Union, visibly impatient, was now ready to sabotage the Hungarian economy in the event of a new blockade by the first Minister Orbán.

The British publication said it had consulted a European document raising the possibility of cutting all European funds to Budapest. Such a decision would have the impact of making financial markets as well as European and international companies less interested in investing in Hungary.

In the extracts from the document published by the Financial Times, a snowball effect on the Hungarian economy was mentioned, going as far as a fall in its currency, the forint.

We are not going to speculate on these discussions, a European spokesperson said at a press conference this week, adding that talks had been held on all the tools at the disposal of the European Commission. The Reuters agency reported on the eve of the summit that as a compromise, European officials were going to offer Hungary an annual debate on this funding for Ukraine, which must be distributed until 27 ;in 2027.

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Members of the European Union must decide on sending a new aid package of 50 billion euros to Ukraine.

Hungary and the European Union are not at their first difficulties. The EU has already blocked funds intended for Budapest in response to policies it deemed inconsistent with respect to the rule of law, press freedom and the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.

On both sides, accusations of blackmail are launched.

Budapest accuses Brussels of trying to make it falter by all means. Hungary is not giving in to blackmail, wrote the Hungarian Minister responsible for European Affairs on the days.

And European elected officials criticize Viktor Orbán for wielding his veto in order to obtain more European funding. Finally, the EU stands up to its bully, wrote for example on X the Green MEP of German origin, Daniel Freund, in reaction to the revelations of the Financial Times.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">The negotiations therefore look tense to say the least in Brussels.

Nearly two years after the start of the war, European leaders, who have increased sanctions against Moscow and aid to Kiev, do not only have their Hungarian counterpart to convince of the merits of supporting Ukraine. /p>

Since the fall, Slovakia, a country neighboring both Hungary and Ukraine, has been led by a prime minister, one of whom of the first decisions was to suspend the delivery of weapons to Kiev.

Then the impacts of certain aid measures to Ukraine created also frustrations.

For example, the arrival of food products, such as wheat and chicken, for which the EU has lifted customs duties in support of Kiev, is seen as a form of unfair competition by many farmers, particularly in Poland and Romania – states bordering Ukraine – but also in France. The question is one of the factors behind the mobilization which is shaking the European agricultural world.

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Farmers demonstrated in Poland to denounce competition from Ukrainian products.

Despite this, 72% of respondents to a survey of 26,471 Europeans conducted at the end of last year by the Katar Institute, on behalf of the European Parliament, said they were still in favor of financial support for Ukraine.

But finding how to transfer funds remains a major challenge. And the pressure is increasing, especially since, given the dynamics in the American Congress, aid from Washington appears more and more uncertain.

  • Raphaël Bouvier-Auclair (View profile)Raphaël Bouvier-AuclairFollow

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