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Smart Take | Europe Comes Through on Aid for Ukraine

February 2, 20241:56

European Union leaders agreed to a $54 billion aid package for Ukraine, locking in critical funding that will sustain the country’s economy over the next several years. The deal comes after months of objections from Hungary's Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, who had vetoed the aid in December. Robin Quinville, Director of the Wilson Center's Global Europe Program, provides insights on the deal. She talks about what the money will be used for, what Orbán achieved through his opposition, and what message a united EU sends to both the US and Russia.

Video Transcript

  • This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

    Ursula von der Leyen expressed the hope that this would also show the United States that Europe is in fact supporting Ukraine. They are investing in Ukraine as well and this funding is important because it is helping Ukraine to support its government operations, which are critical during this wartime period. So this is a message also saying, right, we are investing and we are investing in Ukraine. And these investments will not only keep Ukraine's government running, but they will also be investments in the reforms that are necessary for Ukraine to adapt itself to the European Union in the future. 

    They're also sending a message to Putin and saying, right, we are showing you that we are standing with Ukraine, we are putting our money toward helping Ukraine. This is a four year commitment. So we are standing with Ukraine. If you think that we are not and if you think we are not united, think again.

     This month, Viktor Orban went to Brussels, but he did not get the same kind of deal that he got in December. In fact, a lot of the European leaders met with him, talked to him about how they saw this. And he is not coming away with the same kind of gains. On the other hand, the decision does note the need for fairness and proportionality by the EU in looking at the kind of decisions that it's made with Hungary and the rule of law. The other thing that they put into this decision was the opportunity to review how Ukraine is spending this money over the next four years, and they will do that. But that is in no way allowing for a veto of this money. It is simply an examination of how it's being spent.


Robin Quinville

Robin S. Quinville

Director, Global Europe Program
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Global Europe Program

The Global Europe Program is focused on Europe’s capabilities, and how it engages on critical global issues.  We investigate European approaches to critical global issues. We examine Europe’s relations with Russia and Eurasia, China and the Indo-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa. Our initiatives include “Ukraine in Europe” – an examination of what it will take to make Ukraine’s European future a reality.  But we also examine the role of NATO, the European Union and the OSCE, Europe’s energy security, transatlantic trade disputes, and challenges to democracy. The Global Europe Program’s staff, scholars-in-residence, and Global Fellows participate in seminars, policy study groups, and international conferences to provide analytical recommendations to policy makers and the media.  Read more