Arthur de Laborde, edited by Louis Verdoux / Photo credits: Ludovic MARIN / AFP 06:27, December 15, 2023

On Thursday 14 December, the 27 member countries of the European Union signed the opening of accession negotiations for Ukraine and Moldova. To everyone's surprise and despite multiple threats from him, Viktor Orban, the Hungarian Prime Minister, did not veto it. But this may only be a postponement.

It was a little coup de théâtre live from Brussels. On Thursday 14 December, Charles Michel, President of the European Council, announced the opening of negotiations for Ukraine's accession to the European Union. A "victory for Ukraine and for the whole of Europe", said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and a "logical, fair and necessary response", said his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron. But this process was threatened by one man: Viktor Orban, the Prime Minister of Hungary, who threatened to veto the Hungarian government... Which he didn't trigger in the end.

The threat of a future veto?

The head of state was not even in the room on Thursday evening during the vote on the opening of accession negotiations, which was synonymous with abstention. But before making this concession to other European countries, Viktor Orban obtained guarantees. A diplomatic source told Europe 1 that the accession process would be launched in two stages. Firstly, the political decision that has been announced today, that is to say, a strong signal sent by the Twenty-Seven to Ukraine. Subsequently, it will be the concrete opening of negotiations at the technical level, which are expected to take place next March.

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But in order to get through this stage, a unanimous vote of the Member States is essential. Thus, the Hungarian Prime Minister will have a new right of veto to halt Ukraine's accession process. It also means that Viktor Orban will have a new leverage that he is expected to use to recover around 10 billion euros in EU funds, after securing 30 billion euros through the European Commission on Wednesday. As a reminder, these <> billion euros had been frozen by Brussels for breaches of the rule of law.