EU funding row deepens as Hungary blocks Ukraine aid

(File photo: Jordan News)
BRUSSELS — Hungary on Tuesday blocked a mammoth EU aid package for Ukraine, as Prime Minister Viktor Orban seeks to pressure Brussels into handing him billions of euros in frozen funds. اضافة اعلان

Budapest made good on its threat to oppose 18 billion euros of financial support for war-torn Ukraine at a meeting of EU finance ministers in Brussels.

The aid for Kyiv is one of several initiatives Budapest is stalling as it faces having 13 billion euros in EU funds for it frozen by the bloc over its failures on stopping graft and ensuring judicial independence.

Hungary is also vetoing a longstanding push for an EU-wide minimum corporate tax.

The Czech presidency of the EU said it would now try to find a way for the other 26 member states to bypass Hungary’s opposition and get the financial support to Kyiv.

“We will not be discouraged. Our ambition remains that we will start the disbursement of our aid to Ukraine in early January,” said Czech Finance Minister Zbynek Stanjura.

EU finance ministers were initially expected to give their response Tuesday to a recommendation by the bloc’s executive, the European Commission, to freeze the funds for Hungary.

But the issue was pulled in the face of the ongoing wrangling as some EU countries push the commission to water down its hardline stance on Budapest.

Orban’s government has committed to undertaking a raft of reforms demanded by the EU but has not satisfied Brussels that it is doing enough.

Some European diplomats pointed out that Hungarian lawmakers are meeting this week to pass more legislation that could bring it closer to meeting those reform targets.

Diplomats said the commission had been asked to provide an “update” on Hungary’s reforms next week, in a possible sign a way out of the impasse was being forged.

EU member states have until December 19 to vote on whether to back, reject or change the commission recommendation.

The issue could drag on towards the deadline and be discussed by a December 15 summit of leaders in Brussels.

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