International News

United Over Ukraine

Oscar McKevitt Flack

EU leaders unanimously agree on a €50bn support package for Ukraine.

On February 1st, 2024, the EU’s twenty-seven national leaders agreed unanimously on a €50bn financial package for Ukraine that will spread out over the next 4 years. The agreement was reached after prolonged gridlock as Hungary’s leader, Victor Orban, has long blocked the EU’s so-called ‘’Ukraine Facility” that was proposed by the EU’s President Ursuala Von on der Leyen in June last year.

Financial support from the US has been held-up

Ukraine is in desperate need of funding as it faces a $40bn budget shortfall following large-scale military spending in their continued resistance against Russia’s invasion. Moreover, financial support from the US has been held-up due to ‘’partisan squabbling”, following a Republican-led revolt against the Ukrainian aid package over the border issue in America. This makes the funding from the EU all the more important if Ukraine wants to continue fighting.

The break-through decision gives much hope of a more unified EU which could also have further implications regarding NATO, as Orban has a history of frustrating his allies in peacetime, holding the allies hostage in wartime, for example, by refusing to ratify Sweden’s bid to join the alliance, and generally holding a Russian-orientated perspective on European issues.

This all follows repeated promises to his NATO counterparts that Hungary would not be the last member to ratify Sweden’s application.

Patience seems to have reached its limit

Despite a previously contentious relationship, it appears Mr Orban has yielded to the pressure of his fellow member-states, whose patience seems to have reached its limit. The sudden change of mind stems from the fact that the EU is a financial lifeline for Hungary, as 3-4% of its GDP is dependent upon EU transfers, and should Hungary continue to have its daggers drawn at Brussels then critical economic funds could be withheld. For now at least, it appears unity in the EU is succeeding, and should Ukraine want a fighting chance, it best hope that it stays that way.

The EU may suffer from in-fighting behind closed doors at Brussels, however on the international stage they appear to be united over Ukraine, which is a welcomed change as the war enters its third year and Ukraine’s chances seem as bleak as they have always been.

The attention will now fall on the US and whether Congress decides to prioritise the security of their southern border or the security of Europe.

Oscar McKevitt Flack

Featured image courtesy of Guillaume Périgois via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

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