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Support for Ukraine: Orban threatens to derail the next European summit

Correspondent in Brussels.

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Support for Ukraine: Orban threatens to derail the next European summit

Correspondent in Brussels

No to support of 50 billion euros for Ukraine. No to the start of EU accession negotiations for this country. Ten days before the last European summit of 2023, Viktor Orban drives the point home. In a letter addressed this Monday to the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, the Hungarian Prime Minister reaffirms that there is no question for him of letting the Twenty-Seven move forward on the Ukrainian issue.

As in his previous letter sent in mid-November, the Hungarian leader calls for “a strategic discussion on the general approach and policies towards Ukraine”. “I still believe,” he underlines, “that the European Council (namely the Twenty-Seven, Editor’s note) is not in a position to make key decisions unless a consensus on our future strategy is found.”

Viktor Orban also criticizes the proposal to revise the 2021-2027 European budget made by the Commission and which notably provides for an envelope of 50 billion euros for Ukraine. Deeming this proposal “insignificant, unbalanced and unrealistic”, he calls on the EU institution to review its copy taking into account “the political and economic realities in the Member States”.

Determined to convince Charles Michel to review the agenda and the ambitions of the summit, the Hungarian leader deliberately threatens the veto on all these subjects which require unanimity. “I respectfully urge you not to invite the European Council to take a decision on these issues in December, because the obvious lack of consensus would lead to failure,” he warns.

The Twenty-Seven may have a hard time convincing their counterpart. Even the prospect - relayed in recent days by EU officials - of seeing the Commission shortly release part of the European funds promised to Hungary has not had the desired effect. However, it is a question of 10 billion euros. Which is no small thing for a country like Hungary. “Orban has always been very transactional. Money is perhaps no longer his only concern,” analyzes a diplomat. In this context, scenarios are multiplying around the summit scheduled for December 14 and 15. Some estimate that the meeting could last until Saturday, or even Sunday. Others believe, on the contrary, that it could come to an end.

The absence of an agreement at Twenty-Seven on support for Ukraine and on the launch - under conditions - of accession negotiations would be a failure for the EU which has promised its support for this country "as long as 'it will be necessary' and would then appear very disunited in the face of Russia. This would be an additional source of concern for kyiv while the American aid of 61 billion dollars promised by the White House is still blocked in Congress.

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