‘European taxpayers must not become milk cows’ – Austrian conservatives decry EU’s Ukraine spending bonanza, warn €50 billion will be ‘huge burden’ on citizens

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen address a media conference after the EU-Ukraine summit in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
By Dénes Albert
5 Min Read

What the European Union is proposing goes beyond all reasonable limits and is a political failure on the part of Brussels, says MEP Harald Vilimsky, head of the Austrian Freedom Party’s (FPÖ) European Parliament delegation.

The politician was reacting to the European Commission’s proposal that EU member states should provide a total of €50 billion in grants and loans to Ukraine over the next four years to help rebuild the country. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the reserves were set aside from the multi-annual financial framework and would allow the EU to calculate aid to Ukraine according to the developments in the war.

According to the FPÖ, the European Commission is spending too much without just cause. The party has been an outspoken critic of sending weapons to Ukraine and is calling for a ceasefire, with its stance highly popular in Austria. Currently, it is the number one party in Austria, with polling showing it has reached a record high of 30 percent.

“Ursula von der Leyen has deeply entangled the EU in the war in Ukraine. Moreover, with the Green agreement, she has created a state-backed mega-program that imposes a huge burden on European citizens. The von der Leyen-led EU bureaucracy is constantly taking on new (war) objectives, which it then wants to finance. We must now clearly say to this European Commission that enough is enough,” the FPÖ politician said.

“How can it be that they are supporting Ukraine to such an extent without the consent of Austrian taxpayers while these taxpayers are forced to accept austerity? So far, well over €60 billion has already flowed from the EU to a country with huge corruption problems. While they want to freeze money for Hungary and Poland, they are giving Ukraine a blank check,” said Petra Steger, the FPÖ’s European policy spokeswoman. She added: “Brussels seems to be unstoppable when it comes to new spending and an ever-expanding EU bureaucracy. Under von der Leyen, EU funding is becoming a bottomless pit — it must stop.”

The FPÖ strongly argues that the EU should make do with the existing budget, adapt its tasks accordingly and, if necessary, return powers to the member states.

“European taxpayers must not become milk cows for Brussels’ omnipotent fantasies,” the party said in a statement.

Poland, Hungary and the EU’s weaponization of the budget

There is also growing discontent in Poland about Brussels’ budget wizardry. The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party says the EU must urgently and significantly cut its spending, otherwise the EU could easily find itself on the brink of bankruptcy, wrote Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, a politician in the PiS party, on Twitter.

Hungary and Poland have both seen billions in funds frozen over so-called rule-of-law issues.

Dániel Deák, senior analyst at the XXI Century Institute, told the Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet that the funds Hungary is legally entitled to may no longer even exist. According to the political scientist, for Hungary, this means that “while we have not been receiving the EU funds we are entitled to for a long time, Ukraine, which is not an EU member, is being financed with additional funds. So Hungary would have to pay even more money into the common coffers, while it would also have to pay a penalty for migrants who are not admitted, based on the migrant quota.”

Deák wrote on his social media page: “The EU has run out of money to support Ukraine, so Brussels wants more payments from member states, but more borrowing is not unthinkable. At the same time, Ursula von der Leyen announced another €50 billion in aid for Ukraine.”

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