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Von der Leyen: Ukraine to receive new EU financial aid in March

Ukraine is to receive the first fresh funds from the planned new EU aid package next month. With the approval of the European Parliament, it will be possible to make important payments as early as March, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced to MEPs in Strasbourg on Tuesday.

These would help to keep the Ukrainian economy running, which has been burdened by the Russian war of aggression.

The plan provides for financial aid amounting to 50 billion euros (around 46.8 billion Swiss francs) over a period of four years. 33 billion euros of this is to be paid out as loans, the rest in the form of non-repayable grants.

The new financial aid was approved last Thursday by the heads of state and government of the EU member states at a special summit in Brussels. The summit had been forced by a blockade by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

In return for Orban's agreement, the other EU states then agreed to discuss the implementation of the aid program for Ukraine once a year at top level. There is also to be the possibility of a review in two years' time. However, according to the compromise, this will only be used if all 27 EU states see the need for it. There will be no annual vote.

The Hungarian had previously questioned the sense of the plans for weeks. In this context, he also repeatedly criticized the fact that, in his view, the EU had wrongly frozen funds earmarked for his country from the EU budget.

The EU wants to use the financial aid to enable the Ukrainian state to continue paying wages and pensions. In addition, the operation of hospitals, schools and emergency accommodation for resettled people is to be guaranteed. The money can also be used to restore infrastructure destroyed by the Russian war of aggression. This includes power lines, water systems, roads and bridges. Last year, the EU disbursed financial aid amounting to 18 billion euros.

The European Parliament will vote on the new package in the last week of February. Given the majority, approval is considered certain.

©Keystone/SDA

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