Hungary’s Orbán threatens blocking Ukraine from joining the European Union

December 15, 2023

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said Friday that Hungary’s Parliament can vote down Ukraine’s membership in the European Union—even if all other member nations vote to approve.

His threat came as Hungary also blocked a $55 billion aid package for Ukraine amid the annual EU summit in Brussels.

“They are 26, and I’m alone,” Orbán acknowledged, speaking on Hungarian state radio Friday.

But he added, “If we don’t want Ukraine to be a member of the European Union, then the Hungarian parliament votes it down. And until the issue gets to the parliaments, it’s a very, very long process, and as they counted and I did, there are about 75 occasions when the Hungarian government can stop this process. And they said that if during the negotiations there is something which hurts Hungary’s interests, I stop it.”

Candidacy status is granted by the unanimous decision of the European Council, a branch of the EU, to formally accept the country’s application. The Council and the candidate country then must agree to a framework for accession negotiations. Candidate countries also receive financial and technical assistance throughout the process.

Last month, the European Commission, another branch of the EU, recommended that formal discussions begin aimed at Ukraine’s efforts to join the 27-member alliance.  That announcement was made just days after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had hosted EU President Ursula von der Leyen in Kyiv.

At the time, Von der Leyen said Ukraine had already completed “well over 90% of the necessary reforms” that the EU had set out for its membership last year.

Also during this year’s summit the Council agreed to open membership talks with Moldova as well as Ukraine—despite the veto threat from Orbán—and it granted granted candidate status to the nation of Georgia.

Further, the alliance agreed on a 12th round of sanctions against Russia over its 2022 invasion of Ukraine that sparked the so-far 22-month-long war. The sanctions are aimed at better enforcement of a previously-imposed oil price cap, and it imposes a ban on diamond imports from Russia.

The European Union turned 30 years old on November 1.

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