GP Short Notes

GP Short Notes # 805, 2 February 2024

European Council Summit ends with a deal to aid Ukraine
Padmashree Anandhan

In Focus
By Padmashree Anandhan

The EU: Special European Council Summit ends with a deal to aid Ukraine

On 02 February, the European Council meeting was held in Brussels and the EU leaders gathered to discuss on two key countries, Ukraine and Hungary. The aim of the meeting was to remove the block over Ukraine aid and grant the aid package worth EUR 50 billion. Apart from this the discussion also included future of European Peace Facility (EPF) which is a fund used for paying “weapon donations” to Ukraine.  
Hungary’s block
Viktor Orban, Hungary’s Prime Minister who has been a block in several EU level decisions and has continued to import Russian gas. Hungary blocked the EUR 54 billion military aid package previously in the last held EU summit in December 2023. Orban also opposed Ukraine’s membership accession although there was block in initiating the talks for membership. The EU which had initially frozen the pandemic recovery funds worth EUR 30 billion to Hungary decided to release some billions of euros by mid-January 2024. This has been one of the key reasons for Hungary to negotiate down in agreeing to support Ukraine. On arriving at the meeting, Orban has signalled his readiness to compromise on the condition of “…making aid to Ukraine dependent on an annual unanimous vote.” In contrast, the EU leaders have reproposed giving Hungary the option of an “emergency break” to call for talks on aid instead of new vote.
Response from the EU leaders
According to few EU leaders such as Olaf Scholz, Germany’s Chancellor, Kaja Kalla, Estonia’s Prime Minister, and Donald Tusk, Poland’s Prime Minister stressed on ensuring such summit on re-negotiating support for Ukraine not to repeat. Tusk said: “There is no Plan B. It is up to Orban to decide if Hungary is part of our community or not.” On Hungary’s condition on yearly review of aid to Ukraine, the EU leaders expressed “frustration” over how Hungary can acts as a block every year on the same. Following the deal, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukraine’s President welcomed the deal and issued a statement: “It is very important that the decision was made by all 27 leaders, which once again proves strong EU unity.” A first batch of EUR 4.5 billion is expected to be sent to Ukraine in March which would strengthen Ukraine’s financial stability and boost its economy. After reaching the deal, on the question of the US aid, Ursula Von Der Leyen, European Commission President stated that the deal would help as a booster for the US to send assistance to Ukraine. Michel added: “I'm convinced that this decision is also a signal to the American taxpayers, a demonstration that the EU assumes its responsibility.”
Signing of the deal
Following rounds of discussion for 12 hours, the European Council special summit ended with leaders reaching a deal to support Ukraine with EUR 50 billion for next four years. Charles Michel, the European Council President said: “This locks in steadfast, long-term, predictable funding for Ukraine.” The deal was agreed over a relaxed condition on “optional review” in two years if necessary, adhering to Hungary’s demand through a compromise. The European Council released a statement indicating the efforts: “Military support and security commitments will be provided in full respect of the security and defense policy of certain Member States and taking into account the security and defense interests of all Member States.”
Remarks by President Charles Michel at the press conference of the Special European Council,” European Council, 01 February 2024
EU leaders reach deal on €50 billion Ukraine aid package,” Deutsche Welle, 02 February 2024
Laura Gozzi and Sarah Rainsford, “Ukraine support package worth €50bn agreed by EU leaders,” BBC, 01 February 2024

Other GP Short Notes

Click below links for year wise archive
2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018