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EU Leaders Set for February Summit on Special Budget, Ukraine Support

EU leaders are expected to convene for an emergency summit on 1 February to have another go at agreeing on the bloc’s budget and financial aid to Ukraine, European Council President Charles Michel announced on Monday (18 December).

The announcement comes after a regular EU summit last week failed to produce a decision on the bloc’s annual budget review and a €50 billion aid package for Kyiv due to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s objection.

The Ukraine aid package is an integral part of a revised EU budget, which means that it requires unanimous approval from all 27 of the bloc’s leaders.

Orbán unexpectedly relented on accession talks last week, after being persuaded by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to leave the room for a coffee break, in effect agreeing to practice ‘constructive abstention’ after having signalled for weeks that he would block any move to start talks with Kyiv.

However, only hours later, he vetoed the €50 billion financial aid package, which is intended to fund Ukraine’s government over the next four years.

Speaking to reporters, Michel said the next summit would focus on “convincing the 27th member state [Hungary] to agree so we can have a unanimous decision on this subject”.

Should persuasion fail, EU26 leaders could strike a deal on their own, although EU officials and diplomats agree this would take time and only offer a short-term solution.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday the EU was “not blocked” from providing Ukraine aid next year, adding he felt Orbán had an incentive to reach a deal.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU “was working very hard to have an agreement by 27 member states”.

“But I think it is now also necessary to work on potential alternatives to have an operational solution in case that an agreement by 27 – by unanimity – is not possible,” she added.

Source: Euractiv