EU broadly supports more cash for Ukraine, needs time to work out details

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BRUSSELS, Oct 27 (Reuters) – The European Union broadly favours a plan to support Ukraine with 50 billion euros ($53 billion) over the next four years, leaders said on Friday, but it will take until December for the 27-nation bloc to agree on the details.

The European Commission proposed in June 50 billion euros for Ukraine from 2024 to 2027 as part of a revision of the EU’s budget, which EU governments hope to agree on by December.

“There is a strong view that we need more money for Ukraine, almost unanimity for that,” Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on entering a second day of EU leaders’ talks in Brussels.

“But there is very little agreement on where we would find the money except efficiencies. I think we will have agreement by December,” he said.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Thursday he wanted the proposal for the 50 billion to be better justified before he could agree to it and his Slovak counterpart Robert Fico cited corruption in Ukraine in expressing his reservations.

But neither rejected the proposal outright.

“What I can say is that both of them didn’t refuse the possibility for providing aid to Ukraine, even for a long time,” Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov said on Friday.

“The questions are, what type of aid and how it is used, how we are sure, the European Union is sure, that this aid is used efficiently. So these were the types of the discussions that we had yesterday,” he said.

EU officials expect Hungary’s Orban will change his view on more money for Ukraine if the European Commission unblocks part of the cash Hungary should get from the EU’s recovery fund that is now frozen because of Hungary’s rule-of-law problems.

A draft statement by EU leaders that is to be adopted on Friday said the EU would “continue to provide strong financial, economic, humanitarian, military and diplomatic support to Ukraine and its people for as long as it takes.”

The leaders will also ask the executive European Commission to come up more quickly with a proposal, originally due last July, on how to use frozen Russian state assets to help rebuild Ukraine from the destruction wrought by the Russian invasion.

The EU’s overall support to Ukraine totals almost 83 billion euros since Russia invaded in Feb. 2022, Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said on Tuesday.

($1 = 0.9471 euros)

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