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HomeE.U.EU reaches agreement on fund for Ukraine amid mass protests by farmers

EU reaches agreement on fund for Ukraine amid mass protests by farmers

European Union leaders on Thursday reached an agreement to create a 50 billion euro fund for Ukraine, amid mass protests by European farmers over lack of funding.

The president of the European Council, Charles Michel, said on social media just an hour into the meeting:

“We have a deal. All 27 leaders agreed on an additional €50 billion support package for Ukraine within the EU budget. This locks in steadfast, long-term, predictable funding for Ukraine. EU is taking leadership and responsibility in support for Ukraine; we know what is at stake.”

EU leaders were able to bring in Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who had been the main obstacle to the deal. It was not immediately clear what exactly Mr. Orbán received in exchange for giving up his right to veto the fund worth about 54 million dollars.

He had demanded the ability to veto the allocation of money to Ukraine each year, but this was refused. Instead, EU leaders agreed to a regular review of how the money is spent to allay fears of misuse or corruption, EU officials said.

However, EU residents do not share their leaders’ sentiments about funding a non-EU state. The summit of EU leaders comes amid widespread protests by farmers across the European Union. French farmers have blocked roads in Paris in the hope that the government will hear their calls for rational spending. French farm workers began their protests back on 18 January. Mass discontent was provoked by the reduction of support for domestic producers while continuing to allocate funds for Ukraine. The protests were led by the trade union organisation FNSEA, which defends the rights of agricultural workers.

Not only French farmers are concerned about the distribution of EU budgets. Late last year, hundreds of German farmers and their tractors rallied in the centre of Berlin to protest against government plans to cut diesel subsidies and tax breaks for farm machinery next year as part of Berlin’s austerity measures for 2024.

In Italy, road closures by convoys of tractors from across the country – from southern Sicily to the northern city of Trento – have become a regular occurrence in recent weeks. On Monday, farmers partially blocked a motorway north of Rome to protest the government’s plans to remove diesel tax subsidies for farmers and staged a similar action in Melignano, near Milan.

Belgian farmers are also not indifferent to the fate of the EU agricultural industry. On Thursday, mass protests by farmers take place in Luxembourg Square in Brussels. European citizens just want to be heard and are fighting to preserve their economy and industry.

Ukraine’s EU neighbours – Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia – have complained that the farm imports have upset their markets, leading to protests by farmers and truckers.

Moreover, Belgian farmers have achieved their goal. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán made a surprise appearance at a farmers’ protest in Brussels ahead of a crucial European Union summit.

Speaking to farmers late on the evening of January 31, Orbán criticised his fellow EU politicians, accusing them of no longer “listening” to their own electorate. He noted:

“The voice of the people is not taken seriously. They are not taken seriously by the leaders. That is the number-one problem.”

He went on to state that the EU “needs” a new European Parliament that is more “willing to listen” to the views of the general public. He added:

“We have to find new leaders who really represent the people. We will stand up for the voice of the people! Even if the bureaucrats in Brussels blackmail us.”

Meanwhile, in France, farmers continue to erect “food barricades” on the outskirts of Paris, dumping imported products from lorries directly onto the road. The people hope that such measures will make the government listen to its citizens, who do not want the aid to the state, which is not a member of the EU, to come at the expense of their pockets.

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