EU chief Michel cuts China trip short to lobby Orban on Ukraine objections

The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, interrupted his visit to China due to the fact that the position of the Prime Minister of Hungary  Viktor Orbán, threatens to disrupt the summit of the leaders of the European Union, reports Politico.

Michel is urgently returning from Beijing to Brussels to continue negotiations with EU leaders on further actions, an EU official said in an interview with the publication. He also noted that remote negotiations are not possible, as there are no wiretapping lines available in Beijing for talks with EU leaders.

In a letter dated Monday obtained by Politico, Orbán called on Michel to remove Ukraine's accession talks from the agenda of the European Council summit. "I respectfully urge you not to invite the European Council to decide on these matters in December as the obvious lack of consensus would inevitably lead to failure," Orbán wrote.

The Prime Minister of Hungary categorically opposes the start of negotiations on the acceptance of Ukraine, although the European Commission in November recommended the start of negotiations on membership. Orbán also threatened to veto the planned EU aid to Ukraine in the amount of 50 billion euros.

Michel already met with Orbán last week in Budapest, trying to remove contradictions before the summit of EU leaders, Politico notes.

Earlier today, French President Emmanuel Macron invited Orbán to a meeting in Paris to find a compromise on the start of negotiations with Ukraine on EU accession.

On November 8, 2023, the European Commission recommended starting negotiations on Ukraine's accession to the EU.

On November 10, Orban stated that Hungary has a "clear stance" that there should be no negotiations regarding Ukraine's accession to the European Union.

On November 22, Orbán threatened to block all European Union aid to Ukraine, as well as the country's future accession to the bloc, unless EU leaders agree to review their support strategy for Ukraine.

On November 30, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen stated at the annual conference of the European Defense Agency that the EU should take Ukraine's military needs into account when determining the future strategy of Europe's defense industry.