Hungary foils EU’s Ukrainian aid package as rift with Brussels brews

Europe Western Balkans Summit
Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives for the EU-Western Balkans Summit, in Tirana, Albania, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022. EU leaders and their Western Balkans counterparts gather Tuesday for talks aimed at boosting their partnership as Russia’s war in Ukraine threatens to reshape the geopolitical balance in the region. (AP Photo/Franc Zhurda) Franc Zhurda/AP

Hungary foils EU’s Ukrainian aid package as rift with Brussels brews

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Hungary vetoed a roughly $18.8 billion European Union financial loan package for Ukraine, becoming the sole member of the bloc to oppose the measure Tuesday.

Budapest explained it is not opposed to loaning money to Ukraine per se but wants the money to stem from member EU states instead of the entire bloc, marking the latest clash between the central European nation and Brussels.

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“We will not be discouraged. Our ambition remains that we’ll start the disbursement of our aid to Ukraine in January,” Czech Finance Minister Zbynek Stanjura declared, per Reuters. “This means we will be looking for a solution supported by 26 member states.”

Seeking to circumvent Hungary’s veto, the European Commission is eyeing an alternative pathway of enhanced cooperation to evade foils from Budapest to the loan package, though it will take more time, Politico reported. In some cases, that will likely require parliamentary approvals from member states.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has often been in the crosshairs of the European bloc, which has been rankled by some of his domestic policies and bucking of the EU. His country is also blocking a minimum corporate tax rate for member nations. Orban has additionally stymied some sanctions against Russia in the past.

Brussels has frozen or proposed halting EU funding for Hungary, totaling up to $13.6 billion, over concerns about rule-of-law troubles and issues with its democracy. Some EU officials believe Hungary is quietly tying the unfreezing of those funds to approval for the Ukraine aid package, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Orban has frequently clashed with EU members over LGBT rights, his handling of immigrants, and his expansion of state control in academia and media. Some watchdogs have accused him of centralizing power, but he has denied assertions that Hungary is more corrupt than other EU members, Reuters reported.

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Governments in the EU are poised to decide whether to unfreeze some of the grant funding to Hungary later this month if it determines Budapest complied with its requests for reform.

Ukraine, meanwhile, has been engulfed in a brutal war with Russia that commenced in February. Western nations, including the United States and many European countries, have been sending military and financial aid to Kyiv to help it fend off Russia.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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