EU discusses enlargement and finances

A two-day EU summit begins today in Brussels. The key topics on the agenda are the start of accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova and financial aid to the tune of 50 billion euros for Kyiv. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán had threatened to block both initiatives. On Wednesday the EU released ten billion euros in previously frozen funds for Hungary. Will this end his blockade?

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Contributors (RO) /

Surprises possible

Contributors finds it difficult to know what Viktor Orbán is really up to:

“A unanimous vote by the EU Council is needed, and the decision will no doubt be full of suspense. Hungary, the Kremlin's most important ally in Europe, has raised strong objections to the start of EU accession negotiations with Ukraine, just as it has long blocked a financial package for Kyiv and another sanctions package against Russia. Several high-ranking diplomats in Brussels believe that the Hungarian prime minister may still change his mind about the announced veto, as he has done before, because ultimately he wants to get something out of this for Budapest.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Brussels gambling away its credibility

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung lists three reasons why giving in to Orbán would be wrong:

“Firstly, Brussels damages its credibility. If every member state can call the agreed lines of EU foreign policy into question at any time, a coherent course becomes impossible. ... Secondly, the Commission would strengthen Orbán in his own country. The head of government is presenting himself to his domestic audience as the tough guy who gives the bureaucrats in Brussels a hard time - and is rewarded for it in the end. ... Thirdly, Orbán will find imitators. It's banal but true: those who allow themselves to be so blatantly blackmailed will soon be put under pressure by others.”

Eesti Päevaleht (EE) /

Decisive for larger questions

In an article published in Eesti Päevaleht, historian and social commentator Timothy Garton Ash sees a decisive battle between two Europes:

“What they decide will significantly influence the larger question of whether we are moving towards a Europe of war or of peace, of dictatorship or democracy, of disintegration or integration. ... At this week's European Council, EU leaders should make the vital decision to open membership negotiations with Ukraine, give it continued military and financial support (especially because that from Washington is in peril), and top up the EU's budget to make this possible. ... But Orbán threatens to veto all that. ... They are also meant to discuss the security and defence policy that becomes urgent as we face the prospect of a President Trump 2.0 pulling the rug from under us.”