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EU prepares alternative solutions for Ukraine aid in case $55 billion package fails

by Abbey Fenbert January 6, 2024 6:15 AM 2 min read
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo in Brussels on Jan. 5, 2023. (Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)
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The European Commission is working on "operational solutions" to assist Ukraine if the proposed $55 million funding package falls through, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at a press conference in Belgium on Jan. 5.

The European Council will hold a summit on Feb. 1 to discuss the four-year funding package for Ukraine, worth $55 billion (50 million euros). EU leaders failed to approve the funding agreement in December due to obstruction from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Von der Leyen said the aim is to secure unanimous agreement from the 27 member nations at the February summit.

"But, of course, we have to prepare for other options," she said.

Von der Leyen said the Commission is currently preparing "operational solutions" in the event the package fails to pass, though she did not disclose the details of those alternatives.

"Important to know is we have just released before Christmas the last tranche of our 18-billion-euro support package for Ukraine for 2023, so this will help Ukraine finance their needs for the beginning of this year," von der Leyen said.

Ukraine received 1.5 billion euros in the final installment of the EU's Macro-Financial Assistance (MFA) package on Dec. 21.

"This gives us a little bit of leeway, but of course we have to work as hard and as fast as possible to deliver," von der Leyen said.

Von der Leyen addressed the issue of Ukraine aid at a joint press conference with Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, who also expressed hope that EU leaders would reach a unanimous agreement.

"The aim is to come to an agreement with 27 countries, and we've had, over the past three years, other moments where there were doubts," De Croo said.

De Croo said he believed that the member states would be able to once again overcome those doubts and reach consensus.

Both De Croo and von der Leyen named support for Ukraine as the top priority for the EU going forward.

"We all witnessed Russia's recent brutal airstrikes on civilian targets in Ukraine, and after the historic decision to launch accession negotiations with Ukraine, we must urgently move forward on stabilizing our financial aid to the country," von der Leyen said.

"The Commission will come to the European Council with operation solutions to ensure that we can agree on the Ukraine facility."

Von der Leyen's visit to Belgium marked the start of the Belgian presidency of the European Council. Belgium will assume the presidency of the Council from Jan. 1 to June 30 2024, taking over from Spain.

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12:38 AM

US Ambassador: 'There's no time to lose.'

The U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink told reporters on Feb. 20 that the U.S. does not "have a plan B" when it comes to the supplemental aid package currently being debated in Congress "because we're focused 100% on plan A."

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