EU lawmakers back 18-bn-euro Ukraine aid stalled by Hungary

EU lawmakers back 18-bn-euro Ukraine aid stalled by Hungary
European Parliament/ AFP


The European Parliament on Thursday approved an 18-billion-euro ($18.7-billion) EU financial support package to get Ukraine through 2023, but the plan remains blocked by opposition from Hungary.

Kyiv is urgently seeking billions in emergency funding for next year as it struggles to weather the economic fallout of Russia's devastating invasion.

Hungary -- which has the closest ties to Moscow of the European Union's 27 members -- says it opposes joint borrowing by the bloc to fund the aid package. Instead, it plans to provide support bilaterally to Ukraine.

On Wednesday, Hungary said it would send 187 million euros in financial aid to Ukraine -- just one percent of the sum the EU wants to mobilise.

The EU's top budget official accuses Hungary of barring the bloc's financial plan in a bid to blackmail Brussels into releasing billions of euros of EU funds to Budapest. The funds are held up by concerns over corruption and judicial independence.

The EU has stalled on disbursing 5.8 billion euros in post-Covid recovery funds to Hungary's right-wing government and is threatening to hold back another 7.5 billion euros.

In a resolution approved Thursday, MEPs urged the European's executive arm to stand firm in the face of the pressure from Budapest.

The EU has already sent Ukraine over 6.5 billion euros in macro-financial assistance to Ukraine this year.

But the International Monetary Fund estimates that Kyiv will need between three billion and four billion euros per month next year as it struggles to maintain government services while fighting off a Russian invasion that has occupied almost a fifth of its territory.

Brussels hopes that its contribution will be matched by Washington and other major international donors to bring the support to the required level.