Von der Leyen presses ahead for quick solution on EU aid to Ukraine

Brussels: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wants to get to a deal on new Ukraine aid “as quickly as possible,” she said.

The issue of the €50 billion aid package for Ukraine landed back on her plate at the occasion of the start of the Belgian presidency of the Council of the EU — which placed her again in front of the Brussels press corps after the December summit where Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán blocked approving new EU funds for Ukraine.

“After the historic decision to launch accession negotiations with Ukraine, we must urgently move forward on stabilizing our financial aid to the country,” von der Leyen said. She also criticized the “brutal” air strikes by Russia on civilian targets in Ukraine.

The Commission president acknowledged what EU leaders were already floating right after the European Council in December — that it might be necessary to work around Orbán to get fresh aid to Kyiv.

An agreement by the 27 EU member states is “the first priority,” she said. “But of course, we have to prepare for other options. There are the operational solutions that we are preparing right now.”

The Commission will present these solutions to the European Council. If EU leaders come to a budget compromise on February 1, the Belgian presidency of the Council of the EU will iron out the technical details with EU countries and EU lawmakers.