Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has asked the European Union to foot the bill of €400 million to help his country pay for its border protection expenses, including a newly built fence on its border with Serbia. According to his chief of staff, Janos Lazar, the EU should pay the half of the €800 million total border protection cost.
“If we talk about European solidarity, then we must also discuss the protection of borders. Solidarity must be applicable there, too,” Mr. Lazar said. “That burden must also be shared.” Budapest says that it “was protecting all the citizens of Europe from the flood of illegal migrants,” warning that “double standards cannot be applied.”
Hungary started putting up border fences on its border with Serbia two years ago, at the peak of the migrant crisis, without the EU’s backing and it finished the second fence in April this year. Brussels is not supportive of building fences and walls as border protection and the Commission’s spokesperson said already in 2015 that “we have only recently taken down walls in Europe, we should not be putting them up”.
The EU is also pursuing a number of infringement proceedings against Hungary due to some gaps in its treatment of migrants. The bloc’s major economies, such as Germany, have criticized Hungary for its treatment of asylum seekers, halting refugee resettlement, until Budapest can make sure that the conditions have improved. In 2017, the Hungarian government said that it would detain asylum seekers in “shelters” close to the border with Serbia until their legal status is clarified.