By Jan Strupczewski
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – It’s “immoral” for Hungary to carry up a European Union deal on 2023 financing for Ukraine to extract approval for Budapest’s restoration plan and billions from the EU funds, Lithuanian Finance Minister Gintare Skaiste informed Reuters on Monday.
Hungary has been blocking an EU plan to supply 18 billion euros subsequent yr in monetary assist to war-torn Ukraine by the EU funds, which might make disbursements common and predictable, permitting the Kyiv administration to plan forward.
EU officers say that to take away its veto, one of many issues Budapest needs is EU approval for its plan (RRP) to spend 5.8 billion euros from the EU post-pandemic restoration fund. If there isn’t any approval by year-end, 70% of the money will disappear.
One other factor Budapest might want, EU diplomats and officers say, is for EU finance ministers to freeze a smaller quantity of EU funds for Hungary than the 7.5 billion beneficial by the Fee final week.
The Fee beneficial that the ministers freeze the cash as a result of it’s involved it will be misspent due to unaddressed rule-of-law and excessive degree corruption issues in Hungary. Hungary says it’s addressing the problems even when some nonetheless stay to be tackled.
“There are discussions about the best way to take care of these three points: one is the rule of regulation, the opposite one is RRP and the additional one is Ukrainian help,” Skaiste stated.
“It is a bit immoral of Hungary to dam the help for Ukraine and join that with questions which can be simply on a unique degree,” she stated.
“One problem is having the RRP plan and cash for reforms, however a unique problem is to assist Ukraine which is struggling, which is at warfare and the place persons are dying. It’s simply immoral to place all the pieces on the identical degree,” she stated.
Whether or not EU finance ministers will vote tomorrow on the Fee’s suggestions on the restoration plan and the freezing of funds for Hungary together with the EU financing scheme for Ukraine is to be selected Tuesday morning after a spherical of talks among the many ministers, diplomats stated.
One of many choices is that the ministers would delay voting on all of those points till subsequent week and ask the Fee to supply a fast assessment of the most recent measures taken by Hungary to deal with the EU’s issues on the rule of regulation and corruption.
If the assessment confirmed Hungary made a lot progress, the ministers may very well be inclined to scale back the amount of cash from the EU funds that the Fee needs frozen, which might be a win for Budapest.
“What I count on is possibly nonetheless yet one more week of extra discussions,” Skaiste stated.
She stated that if Hungary continued to bloc financing for Ukraine by the EU funds, different EU governments may agree to supply the cash in another means, like they did this yr.