European leaders will gather for a Summit in Brussels on December 13, 14, and 15 in the buildings of the Council of the European Union.
EU leaders will discuss, among other things, renewing their support for Ukraine, with a macroeconomic package of 50 billion euros ($54 billion) and a promise of formal membership talks on the table.
There is just one stone in their path: Hungary.
Budapest reaffirmed its opposition to Ukraine’s bid to join the European Union. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told the Hungarian parliament that fast-track accession to the EU for neighboring Ukraine does not serve the interests of either Hungary or the EU.
“’Considering the numbers, economic analyses and taking it seriously that talks (with Ukraine) would aim to grant membership… then we must say that this thought at the moment is absurd, ridiculous and not serious’, Orbán said.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, on the other hand, urged the bloc to support Ukraine for ‘as long as it takes’.
“’Besides our political support, Ukraine also needs our sustained financial support’, von der Leyen told the European parliament. ‘We must give Ukraine what it needs to be strong today so that it can be stronger tomorrow at the table when it is negotiating a long-lasting and just peace for Ukraine’.”
Orbán is widely expected to veto proposals to allow Kiev to start accession talks and to receive substantial financial and military aid from the EU budget.
“Orbán, who says the rights of tens of thousands of his ethnic kin living in western Ukraine are being denied, disputed this interpretation.
‘There are three areas where even according to the Commission itself, conditions have not been met: corruption, action against oligarchs and the issue of minorities’, Orbán said.
Budapest is studying the new law passed by Ukraine on minorities, but it will not guarantee the same rights that Hungarians living in Ukraine enjoyed until 2015, he said.”
Meanwhile, the EU is expected to unlock Hungary’s access to 10 billion euros previously frozen, but it’s unlikely that the gesture will avert a dispute between leaders.
In December 2022, the EU suspended around 21.7 billion euros of cohesion funds planned for Hungary, pending the completion by Budapest of a certain number of reforms.
“Hungary insists it has principled objections to Kiev’s move for membership, arguing that President Volodymyr Zelensky’s wartime administration has not done enough to fight corruption. Budapest is demanding a ‘strategic discussion’ on ties with Kiev before any decision.
[…] But, according to sources close to the debate, Brussels will unfreeze around 10 billion euros — just under half the blocked funds — on Wednesday. This, the European Commission will argue, is not to appease Orbán after his summit threat but because Hungary has responded to some of its concerns.”
Some EU leaders say that Orbán is exploiting the summit and the power of his veto to ‘blackmail’ Brussels into resuming Hungary’s suspended transfer payments.
“This could allow, a Brussels source told AFP, around 10 billion euros to be restored to Hungary, starting with a down payment of 500 million, once the ‘final questions have been resolved’.”