As this month’s European summit draws to a close, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz admitted that it was he who persuaded his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Órban to temporarily leave the Council chamber during discussions on Ukraine – but Scholz noted that this it cannot be a “one-size-fits-all solution”.
This allowed the other 26 leaders to make the historic decision unanimously. EU rules say unanimity can be respected even if a leader is absent – meaning Orbán could still say he did not vote for it.
The unusual move has raised eyebrows both in Brussels and elsewhere.
But the move, in Scholz’s words, cannot become commonplace. “Things are not resolved every time you leave the room. This happens in exceptional cases, such as the decision we have just taken,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told the media.
European leaders Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel have expressed confidence that they will be able to reach consensus – or even surpass Viktor Orbán’s position in the future – in particular regarding the provision of an additional 50 billion euros in aid to Ukraine, which Orbán blocked.
However, Charles Michel summarized the decision to give the green light to the European path for Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine as “a very powerful political message” and “a message of hope”.