By Enyichukwu Enemanna
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Friday announced that the EU has concluded plans to provide Ukraine with up to €18 billion in financial assistance throughout 2023 to cover the basic budgetary needs of the war-torn country.
“It is very important for Ukraine to have a predictable and stable flow of income,” von der Leyen said at the end of two-day meeting of EU leaders in Brussels.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said earlier this month thwt his country will need around $55 billion (€56 billion) to sustain next year’s budget deficit and repair damaged infrastructure.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has estimated that, for 2023, Ukraine will need between €3 billion to €4 billion in foreign aid on a monthly basis to keep its public services running against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion.
The money is expected to come from the EU, the United States, the United Kingdom and other Western countries, together with international financial institutions.
According to Ursula von der Leyen, the EU aims to contribute with €1.5 billion a month, for a total of €18 billion in 2023. The Commission president did not unveil further details and said work on the future package was still in early stages.
“We have tasked the finance ministers to develop the appropriate mechanism, but it was important to give this signal to Ukraine that we very well know how important this reliable flow of income is,” von der Leyen told reporters.
Until now, the bloc had committed to deliver €9 billion for Ukraine in exceptional loans to help the country support its 2022 budget. The money is being raised by the Commission on international markets and then covered with guarantees using the EU’s common budget and national contributions.
But the release of this macro-financial assistance has been bogged down by discussions between member states, some of whom argue the money should be given in the form of grants, rather than loans.
So far, only €3 billion have reached Kyiv, in addition to a separate €1.2 billion loan, for a total of €4.2 billion.
In a virtual address to EU leaders, President Zelenskyy criticised the delay of the remaining €6 billion.
“Thank you for the funds that have already been allocated, but a decision has not yet been made on the remaining €6 billion from this package, which is critically needed this year,” Zelenskky said on Thursday.
“And it is in your power to reach a principled agreement on the provision of this assistance to our state today already.”