Judy Asks: Is Europe still committed to Ukraine?

Opinion piece (Carnegie Europe)
14 December 2023

After Russia attacked Ukraine in February 2022, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proclaimed Ukraine “one of us.” The EU institutions have since given Ukraine almost €85 billion ($92 billion) in military, financial, and humanitarian aid, with individual member states giving billions more. By comparison, the United States has given a total of €71.4 billion ($77 billion).

On that level, the EU can congratulate itself on its commitment to Ukraine. But the Kiel Institute for the World Economy has calculated that pledges of aid in August to October 2023 fell by almost 90 percent compared to the same period last year. The Biden Administration is visibly struggling to get aid for Ukraine through the U.S. Congress, but the EU is also failing to agree on more support.

The obstacles are partly political—Budapest wants Kyiv to improve the status of its Hungarian minority and is looking for concessions in its dispute with the EU over the rule of law—and partly fiscal—Germany is blocking a multiyear replenishment of the EU fund used to pay for weapons and munitions for Ukraine.

If the European Council on December 14–15 fails to agree to open accession negotiations with Kyiv, it will be a clear sign that the EU’s commitment to Ukraine is waning, a victory for Vladimir Putin—and no way to treat a country that is “one of us.”

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Ian Bond is deputy director of the Centre for European Reform.