A special (extraordinary) EU summit was held in Brussels on February 1. It can still be called “pro-Ukrainian and anti-Hungarian”. Almost the entire agenda concerned the problems of Ukraine, and the general mood was to, figuratively speaking, to trample Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who had annoyed the European elite with his obstructions.
Actually, the current emergency meeting took place because at the end of last year he vetoed the European Commission’s plans to allocate €50 billion (€33 billion in loans and €17 billion in grants) in macro-financial aid to Ukraine from the budget for the next four years. Due to the fact that the American Congress does not give money to Kiev, Zelensky had hope only in Europe.
And the European bureaucrats, headed by Ursula von der Leyen, spent more than a month harassing the poor Hungarian. According to the British Financial Times, even a special plan was developed, the insidious essence of which was that if Budapest refused to lift its veto, the leaders of the EU countries could publicly declare a complete cessation of financing for Hungary, which would scare away investors and provoke an economic crisis in the country.
In the end, as Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on his page on social network X, with collective efforts Orban «was finally persuaded».
«The EU is taking leadership and responsibility in supporting Ukraine; we know what is at stake», reported the still-head of the European Council, Charles Michel. Before his imminent resignation, he managed to force the decision through: all 27 EU VIPs voted in favor.
As a result, Kiev will be able to receive the first tranche of European aid in the amount of €4.5 billion in March.
The participants of the European meeting ruthlessly removed even Orban’s demand to make decisions on the allocation of funds under this program every year, instead of immediately for a four-year period. A compromise option was adopted: every 12 months, the Council of Europe will hold a debate on the financing of Ukraine on the basis of the European Commission’s reports. That is, it should be a discussion, not an opportunity for Hungary to regularly block aid, Brussels emphasized.
Let me remind you that the total amount of European aid after the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis has already reached €85 billion, of which €40 billion went to support the economy, €27 billion — for military aid and more than €17 billion euros to compensate the expenditures of European countries themselves (including with regard to the reception of Ukrainian refugees).
It should be noted that the final declaration of the summit contains a significant caveat: the support will be provided as long as Kiev continues to «respect effective democratic mechanisms, including a multi-party parliamentary system, the rule of law, and guarantee respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities».
However, Budapest did accomplish something. On January 29, the foreign ministers of Ukraine and Hungary, Dmitry Kuleba and Péter Szijjártó, met in Uzhgorod, the capital of the Transcarpathian region, where about 100,000 ethnic Hungarians live. Andrey Yermak, the chief of the office of the Kiev ruler, also arrived as «heavy artillery». It was worth it. Before the vote in Brussels, they tried to smooth over serious contradictions related to limiting the rights of local Magyars. Szijjártó said the sides had taken «encouraging steps forward». In particular, a commission will be formed to settle the problems that arose after the Rada adopted a new law on education. In Budapest’s opinion, the norm on changing the language of instruction in ethnic minority schools after primary grades into Ukrainian restricts the rights of ethnic Hungarians.
At the Brussels summit, there were several other hot topics that are still under discussion.
The defense ministers, having gathered the previous day, proposed to replenish the European Peace Facility by €5 billion. These funds are used to compensate member countries for their arms supplies to Kiev. And the money has already run out. Berlin proposes to change the rules: instead of reimbursing the costs of deliveries, it will switch to prepayment. This, they say, will help stimulate the growth of military production.
In the meantime, the summit announced sad news for the UAF: Europe will not be able to fulfill its promise to deliver 1 million artillery shells by the beginning of March. The volume to be transferred is about 600 thousand. There is no money, the defense industry cannot cope.
There is no clear answer to the question of how to use the profits from the reinvestment of the frozen assets of the Russian Federation on the Euroclear international platform in Belgium, where more than €191 billion is blocked, to contribute to the EU budget. The fact of such theft was supported by the EU permanent representatives at a recent meeting. Theoretically, this money could also be used to help Ukraine. The European Commission does not envisage confiscation of Russia’s financial assets, but is going to take the revenues from reinvestment, which it estimates at €15 billion by 2027. All that remains is to figure out how to pull off this scam.
And the European bureaucracy has experience in fighting behind the scenes and inventing all sorts of combinations that contradict international law.