The European Union is facing a budgetary dispute that could affect its financial support for Ukraine, a country that is struggling with a protracted war with Russia-backed separatists.
The EU has pledged to provide €86 billion in additional funding for various programs and initiatives, including €1.5 billion for Ukraine, as part of its 2023 budget. However, some member states, such as the Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden, have opposed the budget increase, arguing that it is not justified by the economic recovery from the pandemic.
The budget standoff has cast a shadow over the EU’s commitment to help Ukraine, which is facing a humanitarian crisis and a security threat from Russia. According to the Financial Times, Ukraine has received about €15 billion in loans and grants from the EU since 2014, when the conflict in eastern Ukraine erupted. The EU has also imposed sanctions on Russia for its annexation of Crimea and its support for the separatists. However, some analysts have warned that the EU’s leverage over Russia is diminishing, as Moscow seeks to expand its influence in Africa and other regions.
The EU’s budget battle could also have implications for its relations with other countries in the neighborhood, such as Georgia and Moldova, which are seeking closer integration with the bloc. The EU has offered them visa-free travel and trade benefits, but also expects them to implement reforms and uphold democratic values. The Financial Times reported that some EU officials fear that a lack of funding could undermine the credibility of the bloc’s promises and incentives.
The EU’s budget proposal needs to be approved by a qualified majority of member states and by the European Parliament. The Financial Times said that the negotiations are likely to be difficult and protracted, as some countries may seek concessions on other issues, such as migration or rule of law. The budget dispute could also affect the EU’s ability to respond to other challenges, such as climate change, digital transformation, and global competition.