Denys Shmyhal

EU Leaders Set For Brussels Summit With Focus On Ukraine Amid Signs Of ‘Fatigue’

October 26, 2023
2 mins read

European Union leaders will meet in Brussels on October 26-27 for a summit where they are expected to reiterate their condemnation of Russia’s war against Ukraine and discuss the bloc’s support for Kyiv amid signs of donor fatigue in some members, with the war in its 21st month.

The leaders of the 27 EU member states are expected to reaffirm their support for “Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity” and “its inherent right of self-defense,” according to the draft conclusions of the summit, seen by RFE/RL.

The document, which is not final and must still be approved by EU leaders, will also reaffirm the bloc’s intention to continue to provide “strong financial, economic, humanitarian, military, and diplomatic support to Ukraine and its people for as long as it takes.”

The draft conclusions will also call for “further strengthening sanctions” against Russia over its aggression and will call on the European Commission to “accelerate work” on propositions on how revenues stemming directly from Russia’s immobilized assets could be directed to support Ukraine and its recovery and reconstruction.

Another item on the EU leaders’ agenda is the revision of the long-term EU budget. The European Commission is seeking unanimous support from member states to increase the budget before the end of the year, in particular to ensure the continued flow of financial aid to Ukraine.

Kyiv has said that it needs international support to cover its wartime budget deficit, with Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal saying that Kyiv will need some 42 billion euros ($44.62 billion) next year.

But the budget top-up needs backing from all member states, who will be required to make additional contributions from their national budgets. Hungary, where Viktor Orban’s government continues to cultivate closer ties with Russia, unlike the other EU states, is seen as potential opponent to increased aid for Ukraine.

Slovakia, which just elected a populist leader — former Prime Minister Robert Fico — is another question mark, given he campaigned to win an election in September with pledges to halt military aid to Ukraine while also criticizing sanctions on Russia.

Ukraine is now applying for EU membership, but a decision by EU leaders on whether to launch formal negotiations is not expected until the next EU summit in December, after the European Commission presents its report on the progress made by Ukraine in early November, Reuters reports.

Among the other items on the EU leaders’ agenda is the situation in the Middle East and other foreign policy issues, Pascual Ignacio Navarro Rios, state secretary for the EU, said on behalf of Spain, which currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency.

These include the recent escalation of tensions between Kosovo and Serbia, both of which hope to join the EU, as well as relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan after Baku staged a lightning offensive in September to regain control of Nagorno-Karabakh, the region where ethnic Armenians had enjoyed de facto independence since breaking away in the 1990s.

The EU leaders are expected to condemn Hamas for its “brutal and indiscriminate terrorist attacks” in Israel, in which 1,400 people were killed, and emphasize Israel’s right to defend itself, according to the draft conclusions of the meeting. They will also express concern for the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza and call for a “humanitarian pause” in Israel’s campaign to bring in relief.

The situation in the Middle East was discussed by the foreign ministers of the bloc’s member states during a meeting earlier this week, but they failed to reach an agreement on a joint position.

With reporting by Rikard Jozwiak

The Washington Inquirer Editor

20 years in media business

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