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Germany seeks to reduce amount it gives to €20bn EU fund for Ukraine, leaked document reveals

German Chancellot Olaf Scholz with Ursula von der Leyen, Present of the European Commission, in November 2023. He has told EU counterparts he is fully committed to funding for Ukraine but a recent ruling by Germany’s powerful constitutional court has made additional spending commitments hard to meet.
German Chancellot Olaf Scholz with Ursula von der Leyen, Present of the European Commission, in November 2023. He has told EU counterparts he is fully committed to funding for Ukraine but a recent ruling by Germany’s powerful constitutional court has made additional spending commitments hard to meet.

Germany is seeking to reduce the amount it gives to a €20billion European Union fund for weapons for Ukraine, a document leaked to The Daily Telegraph on Friday revealed.

In a confidential “non-paper”, Berlin argues that the European Peace Facility (EPF) should take into account the billions in military aid it has donated to Kyiv bilaterally.

The EPF has provided €4.5 billion worth of weapons to Ukraine since Russia’s full-scale invasion last February and drilled 34,000 Ukrainian troops as part of an EU training mission.

The German document, a non-binding positional paper, has sparked fears among European capitals that chancellor Olaf Scholz could scupper future attempts by the EU to support Ukraine’s fight against the Russian invasion.

In a separate paper seen by The Daily Telegraph, France argues that the EPF should halt the supply of weapons from member states’ stockpiles and instead concentrate on “common procurement” of military aid from European arms manufacturers.

The French have previously been accused of slowing down EU efforts to deliver one million artillery shells to Ukraine by demanding that only companies based in the bloc benefit from the scheme.

Until now, Viktor Orbán, the Hungarian prime minister, had been the sole opponent to the creation of a €20billion war chest for weapons supplies to Kyiv.

Direct deliveries of military equipment

In its paper, Berlin says: “Military support for Ukraine can be provided either through financial contributions to the Ukraine envelope in the EPF or as direct deliveries of military equipment to Ukraine.”

The document adds that “in kind contributions” should be “fully credited against a member state’s agreed contributions to the Ukraine envelope”.

The wording has raised concerns that Germany could insist on writing off bilateral contributions to Kyiv from the EPF.

Berlin is the EU’s largest economy and contributes a quarter of funds to the EPF.

Last month, it announced it would double its military aid to Ukraine in 2024, signing off on an €8 billion package.

But Germany has often complained the bloc’s member states are abusing the EPF scheme to send old weapons to Ukraine and use reimbursements to modernise their militaries.

It has rejected a European Commission request for €100 billion to top up the EU’s common budget, which is funded by member states.

Half of the cash would be set aside for supporting Ukraine over the next four years, while the other €50 billion would be used to repay common debt, as well as for migration spending and increased salaries for EU officials.

Limit on public spending

Mr Scholz has told EU counterparts that he is fully committed to funding for Ukraine but a recent ruling by Germany’s powerful constitutional court has made additional spending commitments hard to meet.

The court in Karlsruhe ruled that his government had breached a constitutional “debt brake”, which places a limit on public spending.

EU leaders will discuss the overhaul of the EPF when they meet in Brussels later this month for their final European Council summit of the year.

Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat, created the €20billion pot to purchase weapons for Ukraine over the next four years as part of a longer-term strategy to support the war-torn country.

But several European capitals are attempting to place significant restrictions on the fund ahead of the talks.

Hungary, seen as Russia’s closest ally in Europe, has suggested “voluntary contributions” to the EPF, to distance itself from the project.