EU leaders to press Hungary on Ukraine funding deal

Rosie Birchard, Deutsche Welle (DW), 31.01.2024

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EU leaders gather in Brussels to address Hungary's delay in approving long-term aid for Ukraine, seeking to unblock crucial funds. The summit aims to persuade Budapest to support the €50 billion aid package for Kyiv.

As Russian attacks continue, Ukraine is running out of funds to keep its economy afloat and deliver key services such as running hospitals or keeping schools open to teach children. The last round of European Union (EU) financial aid for Kyiv was disbursed in December, and there is no guaranteed EU funding on the horizon. A plan to secure €50 billion ($54.1 billion) to tide Ukraine over until 2027 through EU budget support remains deadlocked after Hungary vetoed the agreement in December. [...]

"It is something which is weakening the EU in the eyes of adversaries, but also in the eyes of its own citizens, so it's something which needs to be taken care of," Janis Emmanouilidis, director of studies at the Brussels-based think tank European Policy Center, told DW. [...]

Could Hungary be stripped of EU voting rights?
There are now murmurings around Brussels of pursuing the so-called "nuclear option" of progressing the lengthy and cumbersome procedure of stripping Budapest of its EU voting rights.

Hungarian lawmaker from the ruling right-wing populist Fidesz party Balazs Hidveghi slammed the idea as "shameful."

"You disagree with someone, and then you want to take away their right to speak and vote? That is a dictatorship," he told fellow parliamentarians in Strasbourg earlier this month.

The procedure — known as Article 7 of the EU treaty — is unlikely to move forward any time soon due to political and legal constraints, but Emmanouilidis told DW it has now become "a potential reality." [...]

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