Macron to host Orbán to find compromise on new Ukraine aid

French President Emmanuel Macron will receive Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán for a “working dinner” in Paris on Thursday evening to discuss further EU aid for Ukraine despite continued strong opposition from Budapest.

Like in March, Macron is hosting Orbán at the presidential palace to discuss several issues that will be on the agenda of the EU Summit on 14 and 15 December – including “European support for Ukraine” and issues “relating to the enlargement and reform” of the EU, the French president’s office wrote in a press release.

But Orbán will be a tough nut to crack as he has continued to maintain good relations with Russia since the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine and has recently said he would oppose the European Commission’s newly proposed €50 billion Ukraine package, as well as the opening of EU accession negotiations with Ukraine.

In his view, “the European Commission’s proposal to open negotiations on Ukraine’s accession to the EU is unfounded and ill-prepared”, he insisted on X on 3 December.

“Instead of financing war, we should finally devote Europe’s resources to making peace”, he added the following day, expressing strong opposition to new EU aid.

Orbán’s refusal to budge on Ukraine aid could have serious consequences, as decisions on the aid package require the unanimity of all member states, including Orbán’s Hungary, which EU institutions already fear could pull out its veto card at the upcoming summit.

To avoid such a scenario, European Council President Charles Michel travelled to Budapest at the end of November to try change Orban’s mind.

However, the message does not seem to have hit home, as Orbán asked Michel in a letter dated 4 December to remove budgetary support for Kyiv and the opening of EU accession procedures from the agenda for next week’s summit.

Macron may indeed be more successful on Thursday evening, as he is pushing for a “strategic partnership agreement with Ukraine” rather than membership and also prefers an aid fund to which each member state would pay “the amount it wants”.

Orbán is also waiting for the release of frozen EU funds, which the European Commission has put on hold amid concerns over corruption and the rollback of democratic checks and balances.

At a meeting with Orbán in March, Macron insisted on the “unity of European countries” in the face of the war in Ukraine – a vision that could bode well for Thursday’s dinner.

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