The German Foreign Ministry believes that the European Union will be able to provide assistance to Kyiv even in the event of objections from Hungary. This position was outlined during a briefing by the official representative of the German diplomatic department, Christian Wagner.

"In any case, the European Union will continue to support Ukraine... Of course, the EU-26 (26 EU countries without Hungary – RT) will also be able to act. But I don't want to speculate on how such support could be organized. This also requires further consultations in Brussels," Bloomberg quoted Wagner as saying.

The diplomat added that Berlin will continue to "actively advocate" for the approval of a larger €50 billion aid package for Ukraine early next year.

  • The building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany
  • © Terroa

Recall that at the December EU summit, Hungary vetoed the allocation of €50 billion from the EU budget to Kyiv. As Prime Minister Viktor Orban clarified at the time, this issue will be discussed again in 2024. Later, Budapest proposed that the European Union refrain from allocating funds to Ukraine from the association's budget for five years.

Orbán explained Hungary's decision by the fact that the European Union does not currently have the funds available for these purposes.

"Since there is not much money in the EU budget today, it has to come from somewhere. There are two options, one of which is to make a joint loan. We have had a bad experience of co-borrowing for the Recovery Fund created due to the coronavirus pandemic, and we will no longer do so. On the other hand, if we don't borrow money, we will have to transfer funds from existing budget items, and this can also affect the funds of Hungarians. And we will not allow the Hungarians to give their money to Ukraine," TASS quoted him as saying.

In addition, one of the reasons for this decision could be the blocking of funds intended for Hungary from EU funds. Balazs Orban, an adviser to the Hungarian prime minister, said on December 12 that his country was ready to abandon its veto if it received the money. According to analysts, Brussels should allocate about €30 billion to Hungary.

"These funds were blocked due to complaints against Budapest regarding compliance with some EU standards. For Hungary and its budget, this is a lot of money. Therefore, Orbán is actually now bargaining with Brussels to get them," Nikolai Topornin, director of the Center for European Information and associate professor at MGIMO University, told RT.

Plan B for the EU

Viktor Orbán has previously suggested that the EU could try to circumvent the Hungarian veto by concluding a separate agreement between the other 26 members of the association.

The Financial Times also reported on possible options for circumventing the veto. According to her, the European Union is considering the possibility of allocating up to €20 billion to Ukraine at the expense of debt funds. In this case, the EU countries will undertake financial guarantees to the budget of the association, which will allow the European Commission to borrow the amount necessary for Kiev on the capital markets. A similar scheme has already been used during the coronavirus pandemic to provide EU countries with up to €100 billion.

  • Flags of EU countries in front of the European Parliament building

Nikolai Topornin called this option quite realistic, since it will not require the approval of all EU member states.

"Hungary's consent will no longer be necessary. The main thing is that there is the consent of the main creditors, that is, such large countries as Germany, France and Italy. This is a kind of plan B for the EU," the analyst said.

As a backup option, the possibility of providing Ukraine with cheap short-term loans is also being considered, the FT writes. Under this scheme, Kiev has already received €18 billion this year.

At the same time, the newspaper's interlocutors noted that the priority option for the EU is still to agree on funding in the amount of €50 billion. According to the publication, Brussels promised to provide Kiev with assistance in one form or another no later than March 2024.

"He'll Get His Way"

According to analysts, in the future, the EU can also circumvent Hungary's veto by reforming the decision-making system in the association. In particular, the European Union has long discussed the possibility of abandoning the veto principle in foreign policy in favor of voting by qualified majority. At least nine of the 27 EU countries, including Germany, France and Italy, are supporters of such a measure.

"In the European Union, there is a double-majority rule in decision-making. 55% of countries with 65% of the population must vote in favor. Until now, this rule only concerned the internal affairs of the EU, and there had to be unanimity on foreign policy. Now there is talk of extending this mechanism to foreign policy. The probability of such a development of events is quite high," Vadim Trukhachev, a political scientist and associate professor at the Russian State University for the Humanities, said in a comment to RT.

  • Budapest
  • © Paul Panayiotou

It is worth noting that the EU is also discussing the option of depriving Hungary of the right of veto specifically. This was reported in December by the FT, citing European diplomats.

To do this, Brussels, according to the publication, can apply Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union of 2007, which allows depriving a country of the right to vote in connection with a violation of European law. However, this decision must be taken unanimously. At the same time, a number of EU states are wary of such an idea, preferring instead to put pressure on Viktor Orban in other ways, including isolating him within the union, writes the FT.

According to Nikolai Topornin, restricting Budapest's rights still looks like the least likely outcome of the confrontation between Hungary and Brussels, since many EU members are likely to consider such a measure too harsh and politicized.

"Indeed, there is a provision in the Lisbon Treaty that allows the suspension of the voting rights of an EU member in exceptional cases. And not only on foreign policy issues, but also on a number of others. However, there have been no such precedents yet and, I believe, there will never be, because this requires the consent of all other EU members. The same Slovaks or Poles will say that it is better to resolve issues through compromise," the analyst explained.

He added that, among other things, the European bureaucracy has no legal basis for depriving Hungary of the right to vote.

"Hungary simply has its own opinion on certain issues. At the same time, it does not violate any laws of the European Union, neither the Lisbon Treaty, nor various directives of Brussels. Therefore, there are no grounds for depriving Hungary of the right to vote now," Topornin said.

The political scientist also believes that sooner or later Hungary and the EU will come to an agreement on assistance to Kyiv.

"One way or another, it's going to happen. On the eve of the adoption of each package of anti-Russian sanctions, Orbán begins to say that it is useless, that it is better to focus on other problems. But in the end, he votes for restrictions. So in this case, it is likely that Hungary will achieve its goal, receive the funds intended for it, after which the issue of allocating assistance to Ukraine will be resolved," the analyst concluded.