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Deal reached over EU’s €50bn Ukraine support package after leaders overcome Viktor Orbán objections – Europe live


Deal reached on 50 billion euros in EU aid for Ukraine

Charles Michel, the European Council president, has announced that a deal has been reached on 50 billion euros for Ukraine.

“All 27 leaders agreed,” he said, adding that “this locks in steadfast, long-term, predictable funding for Ukraine.”

The agreement comes after the bloc’s most influential politicians sat down with Hungary’s Viktor Orbán this morning.

Orbán had vetoed an agreement during a summit in December, and efforts have been ongoing to bring him onboard.

Michel’s announcement indicates leaders succeeded in convincing the Hungarian leader.

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

Updated at 

Key events

“The EU keeps its promise to Ukraine,” the Belgian prime minister, Alexander De Croo, said, adding that “once again we reaffirm the unity of the 27 member states.”

The EU keeps its promise to #Ukraine

The people of Ukraine and President @ZelenskyyUa are fighting for the freedom of all Europeans.

Once again we reaffirm the unity of the 27 member states. @EU2024BE #EUCO

— Alexander De Croo 🇧🇪🇪🇺 (@alexanderdecroo) February 1, 2024

Miranda Bryant

An update on Hungary-related tensions at Nato:

No movement is expected on Hungary’s Nato ratification of Sweden today despite both countries’ leaders being in Brussels.

Prime ministers Ulf Kristersson and Viktor Orbán are due to meet later today at an as yet unspecified time for discussions, according to Swedish sources, but no Nato negotiations will take place.

However, it is understood that subjects up for discussion could include arranging a time for Kristersson to visit Budapest after he was invited by Orbán after Turkey’s parliament gave Sweden’s Nato accession the green light.

Hungary is now the last remaining member of the alliance to ratify Sweden – despite having previously said it would not be the last to do so.

Today’s agreement “demonstrates EU unity and that together we can deliver,” Estonia’s Kaja Kallas said.

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.

An important signal to Ukraine that the EU stands behind you long-term, until victory. #EUCO pic.twitter.com/O81iZW9tVS

— Kaja Kallas (@kajakallas) February 1, 2024

‘Very important’ that all 27 agreed to funding deal, Zelenskiy says

Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he is grateful to EU leaders for establishing a new €50 billion facility for his country.

“It is very important that the decision was made by all 27 leaders, which once again proves strong EU unity,” he said.

The Ukrainian leader added:

Continued EU financial support for Ukraine will strengthen long-term economic and financial stability, which is no less important than military assistance and sanctions pressure on Russia.

What are the 2020 rule of law conclusions referenced in the compromise?

As part of today’s deal, leaders agreed to state in their summit conclusions that “the European Council recalls its December 2020 conclusions on the application of the conditionality mechanism.”

Why is this relevant for Hungary’s Viktor Orbán?

In 2020, the leaders agreed to create a new mechanism which allow the bloc to suspend EU funding to a member state in a scenario when breaches of the principles of the rule of law affect or seriously risk affecting the sound financial management of the EU budget or the bloc’s protection of the financial interests.

The mechanism was later triggered to suspend part of Hungary’s EU funding.

In the 2020 conclusions, leaders stressed that “the Union budget, including Next Generation EU, must be protected against any kind of fraud, corruption and conflict of interest.”

At the time, they noted that “the application of the conditionality mechanism under the Regulation will be objective, fair, impartial and fact-based, ensuring due process, non discrimination and equal treatment of Member States.”

Updated at 

Lisa O'Carroll

Lisa O’Carroll

Viktor Orbán has agreed a deal with fellow EU leaders on a €50bn support package for Ukraine, the spokesperson for Charles Michel has confirmed.

He finally succumbed to pressure after a series of meetings last night and this morning with the Italian, French and German prime ministers.

They agreed two compromises – there would be a European Commission review of the spending in two years time. But there would be vote on this.

There was also an additional measure on the rule of law conditionality mechanism, the spokesperson said.

After the deal was struck, the European Council president then quickly consulted with other EU leaders and they agreed “quickly”, said the spokesperson.

Updated at 

Here’s the wording leaders agreed

Leaders have agreed on the following text, according to a document seen by the Guardian:

On the basis of the Commission annual report on the implementation of the Ukraine Facility, the European Council will hold a debate each year on the implementation of the Facility with a view to providing guidance. If needed, in two years the European Council will invite the Commission to make a proposal for review in the context of the new MFF.

They also agreed:

The European Council recalls its December 2020 conclusions on the application of the conditionality mechanism.

Updated at 

EU leaders welcome agreement

EU leaders are celebrating today’s deal on funding for Ukraine.

“Excellent news for the security of Latvia and all of Europe,” wrote the Latvian prime minister, Evika Siliņa.

Petteri Opro, the Finnish prime minister, said: “It is important that we move forward and that the support for Ukraine continues to be strong as planned.”

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

Saimme EU-huippukokouksessa päämiesten kesken sovun Ukrainan tukemisesta. EU tukee Ukrainaa 50 miljardilla eurolla. Päätös syntyi yksimielisesti. On tärkeää, että pääsemme eteenpäin ja Ukrainan tuki jatkuu suunnitellusti vahvana. #EUCO

— Petteri Orpo (@PetteriOrpo) February 1, 2024

Updated at 

Deal reached on 50 billion euros in EU aid for Ukraine

Charles Michel, the European Council president, has announced that a deal has been reached on 50 billion euros for Ukraine.

“All 27 leaders agreed,” he said, adding that “this locks in steadfast, long-term, predictable funding for Ukraine.”

The agreement comes after the bloc’s most influential politicians sat down with Hungary’s Viktor Orbán this morning.

Orbán had vetoed an agreement during a summit in December, and efforts have been ongoing to bring him onboard.

Michel’s announcement indicates leaders succeeded in convincing the Hungarian leader.

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

Updated at 

Leaders have entered the room for the official start of talks. Viktor Orbán is also in attendance.

Summit officially begins

The summit is now starting, following a delay as influential leaders met in smaller groups.

Another small group has gathered for talks, as the formal start of the summit was delayed:

Poland’s Donald Tusk, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, European Council president Charles Michel, French president Emmanuel Macron, German chancellor Olaf Scholz and Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte were in attendance.

Updated at 

The German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, is pushing for a deal among all 27 EU government.

Wir müssen als EU geschlossen dazu beitragen, dass die Ukraine in der Lage ist, sich zu verteidigen. Alle 27 Mitgliedsländer müssen dazu eine Entscheidung erreichen wollen. In einer Gemeinschaft wie Europa eine ist, sollte das möglich sein. #EUCO

— Bundeskanzler Olaf Scholz (@Bundeskanzler) February 1, 2024

Orbán- Kristersson meeting expected today

Miranda Bryant

Miranda Bryant

Ulf Kristersson, the Swedish prime minister, is due to meet his Hungarian counterpart, Viktor Orbán, in Brussels today for the first time since their public exchange over his country’s drawn out delay to ratifying Sweden’s Nato membership.

Kristersson, who flew to Brussels last night after spending the day in Sweden with French president Emmanuel Macron, who was on a state visit, said yesterday that they “had not nailed down a specific time” to meet at the European Council, but added: “I am guaranteed to speak with him.”

After Turkey gave its long-awaited green light to Sweden’s Nato membership last week, leaving Hungary the single remaining country to ratify, Orban invited Kristersson for negotiations on the subject, leaving Hungary’s allies “exasperated” by his foot-dragging.

Updated at 

Varadkar says Mercosur deal should not go ahead

Lisa O'Carroll

Lisa O’Carroll

Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar has said the planned Mercosur trade deals with the south American countries should not go ahead.

He said he agrees with France’s Emmanuel Macron, who said in Sweden the deal, which has been years in the making, should not be signed off.

“We need clarity on Mercosur, we ask that the deal should not be signed in its current shape,” Macron said on a visit on Wednesday to Sweden, putting his demand on the record.

Varadkar said on Thursday:

I also would echo President Macron comments in relation to Mercosur, that this trade agreement cannot be ratified in its current form, that we can’t have a situation whereby we impose environmental regulations on farmers that allow imports from countries that don’t have those same regulations.

Farmers have pelted the Brussels-Luxembourg train station, near the European Parliament, with eggs while smoke hangs over Luxembourg Square in front of the buildings after waste was set on fire.

Varadkar said:

Many protests that are occurring. And what quite a number of heads of government here, who understand the pressures that our farmers are under, whether it’s increased energy costs of fertiliser costs and new environmental regulations, it is layer on layer for farmers.

“I think the priority for us should be implementing existing rules and regulations and not imposing new additional ones on farmers over the next couple of years.”

As leaders gather to discuss support for Ukraine, protesting farmers appear to have taken down and damaged a historic statue in Brussels, in front of the European parliament.

Place du Luxembourg today Photograph: Dirk Waem/Belga/AFP/Getty Images

Angela Giuffrida

Meanwhile in Italy

In Italy, where hundreds of tractors blocked traffic on a motorway near Milan on Wednesday, deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini blamed European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen for the protests.

“The Von der Leyen commission is disastrous in relation to labour and rights,” Salvini, who leads the far-right League party, told reporters in Brussels, adding that most of the issues “are with the crazy, pseudo-green European policies that regard farmers, fishers, truck drivers…it is clear that this Europe has put ideology ahead of labour.”

Italian farmers have also protested in Tuscany, Lazio, Piedmont and Sardinia in recent days.

Lisa O'Carroll

Lisa O’Carroll

Josep Borrell has said it is vital that the funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) continues while the investigation into allegations that a number of staff were involved in the 7 October Hamas attacks are ongoing.

He said the investigation “had to be done” but there should be no “collective punishment” of the wider Palestinian population funded through the UNRWA schemes.

“You cut funding to UNRWA you are punishing the whole Palestinian people, there is not an alternative to UNRWA as the UN has clearly said.

“Do you want to keep these people alive, no collective punishment fo the Palestinian people, no cutting funds to UNRWA.

“An investigation of course, but there are hundreds of thousands of people being supported by UNRWA. You cannot stop funding that is keeping these people alive.”

Robert Abela, Malta’s prime minister, wrote on social media ahead of today’s summit that his country’s “call for peace and security remains, as stability in Europe is key for our country and the rest of the region.”

Arrived in Brussels for the special #EUCO summit. Discussions will focus on the mid-term review of the financial framework and the Middle East. Malta’s call for peace and security remains, as stability in Europe is key for our country and the rest of the region. – RA

— Robert Abela (@RobertAbela_MT) February 1, 2024





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