All 27 European Union countries agreed on an additional 50-billion-euro ($54bn) aid package for Ukraine, despite threats from Hungary to veto the move.
“We have a deal,” European Council President Charles Michel said in a post on X on Thursday, just an hour into a summit of EU leaders in Brussels.
Michel said the move “locks in steadfast, long-term, predictable funding for Ukraine” and demonstrates that the “EU is taking leadership and responsibility in support for Ukraine; we know what is at stake“.
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We have a deal. #Unity
All 27 leaders agreed on an additional €50 billion support package for Ukraine within the EU budget.
This locks in steadfast, long-term, predictable funding for #Ukraine.
EU is taking leadership & responsibility in support for Ukraine; we know what is…
— Charles Michel (@CharlesMichel) February 1, 2024
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said: “It is very important that the decision was made by all 27 leaders, which once again proves strong EU unity.”
Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride, reporting from Kyiv, said, “There is a great sense of relief that this guarantees funding for four years, so it gives a longer term sense of security. There’s also a lot of talk here about some of these funds going into an investment fund to try to attract private sector investment.
Zelenskyy posted on X that the EU’s approval of the aid package would strengthen long-term economic and financial stability as the war with Russia approaches its third year.
Ukraine expects to receive the first tranche of 4.5 billion euros ($4.9bn) from the EU facility in March, the Ministry of Economy said on Thursday.
Grateful to @CharlesMichel and EU leaders for establishing the €50 billion Ukraine Facility for 2024-2027.
It is very important that the decision was made by all 27 leaders, which once again proves strong EU unity.
Continued EU financial support for Ukraine will strengthen…
— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) February 1, 2024
Welcoming the decision, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said the bloc “one more time show their solidarity and unity in the actions to Ukrainian people to withstand the war”.
McBride said: “There is a hope that it’s not just the 50 billion euros ($54bn), but that we’ll have a multiplier effect and attract other investment in Ukraine with all of the rebuilding that it has to do.”
But he also added that it “is a further reminder, if Ukraine ever needed such a reminder, of just how dependent it is on overseas aid”.
Kyiv has become increasingly desperate to secure funding from Western countries in recent months.
EU funding is especially significant as a similar aid package from the United States continues to be held up because of internal political disputes and further complicated by the presidential election in November.
“US funding to Ukraine became a hostage of domestic US politics,” Hlib Vyshlinsky, executive director of the Centre for Economic Strategy, told Al Jazeera.
“It was very hard for Ukraine to do anything with it in a year of presidential elections in the United States.”
In December, the bloc agreed on the latest aid package, which would run through to 2027, and decided to make Ukraine a candidate for EU membership, which Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban reluctantly accepted.
But Orban, who has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, was angry at the European Commission’s decision to block his government’s access to some of the bloc’s funds, which they did over concerns about possible threats to the EU budget by Hungary.
In response to the lack of access, Orban vetoed several issues at the EU.
“I don’t want to use the word blackmail, but I don’t know what other better word” might fit, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas told reporters as she arrived for the meeting.
“Hungary needs Europe,” she said, adding, “He should also look into what it is in it for Hungary, being in Europe.”
After the deal was sealed, Kallas noted that it was an “important signal to Ukraine that the EU stands behind you long-term, until victory”.
We have an agreement! All EU 27 countries have approved the 50 billion EUR financial aid package for Ukraine.
It again demonstrates EU unity and that together we can deliver.
— Kaja Kallas (@kajakallas) February 1, 2024
Latvia’s Prime Minister Evika Siliņa posted on X that the agreement was “excellent news for the security of Latvia and all of Europe”.
Agreement! 27 #EU countries have fulfilled our commitment to provide #Ukraine with predictable, long-term support of 50 billion euros. This will strengthen 🇺🇦 in its fight for freedom. Excellent news for the security of #Latvia and all of Europe. 🇱🇻🇪🇺 pic.twitter.com/YeXhRQ2nxG
— Evika Siliņa 🇱🇻🇺🇦 (@EvikaSilina) February 1, 2024
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