Zbynek Stanjura, the Czech finance minister, has made an urgent call for fellow EU finance ministers to ensure €18 billion in financial assistance is given to Ukraine by the beginning of 2023. The finance minister said that it will be “very difficult” to look Ukrainians in the eye after the European Union failed its pledge to send billions in emergency assistance to Ukraine during the war.
Mr Stanjura told the media after an EU finance meeting on Tuesday that “It’s very difficult to look the Ukrainian ministers in the eye and explain to them why we’re incapable of honouring the promises made by our heads of state and government.”
It comes at a time Ukraine has been struggling to cover its budget deficit and finance basic services since the Russian invasion of the country earlier this year.
Valdis Dombrovskis, the European Commission’s executive vice president has said EU finance ministers agreed to “move ahead with an assistance package” of €18 billion and added there has been an “extensive discussion” on the promised €9 billion.
He added: “We expect the next payment of two and a half billion euros to reach Kyiv by the end of this month. ”
This weekend, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen reassured President Zelensky that the financial help will be there soon, and a statement said: “Both leaders recognised the importance of ensuring predictable and regular funding of essential state functions.”
It seems the remaining €9 billion promised will be sent to Ukraine in the next year, which is later than the Ukrainian government expected.
In October, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky told the EU at the European Council summit that the remaining €6 billion promised to Ukraine was “critically needed this year”
The International Monetary Fund, which is the United Nation’s financial agency, has estimated that Ukraine may need over €3 billion a month in foreign aid to finance just its public services.
EU officials have said overall they have sent €19 billion for Ukraine in loans and grants, but this doesn’t include the emergency assistance promised in Mat.
Annika Saarikko, Finland’s finance minister, said: “The main thing is to speed up the aid now, the winter is coming and the situation is not easy.”
The European Commission has announced that in 2023 the EU will send €1.5 billion a month in loans and grants, instead of giving Ukraine aid on a case-by-case basis.
The money will not be taken from the EU budget, but instead, be raised on capital markets and the debt will then be transferred to Ukraine in form of loans tied to certain policy goals.
The European Commissioner vice president Mr Dombrovskis said this “more structural” system will aim to send its first payment in January 2023, once it’s been approved by the European Parliament.
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On Wednesday, the European Commission is expected to lay out the details of the new €18 billion of financial aid.
The plan involves using the EU budget as a way to raise funds, which requires support from all 27 member states in order to proceed.
The Czech finance minister Mr Stanjura asked members states to “not to look back, but to make sure we can look forward, and provide effective help because Ukraine really needs this money”.
However, the Hungarian foreign minister Péter Szijjártó has said Hungry will not support the new deal.
On Monday, he said: “Hungary is ready to continue its financial support to Ukraine on a bilateral basis, but under no circumstances will we agree to the EU taking out credit to pay for this purpose,”