The European Commission said ‘no’ to the request of the Hungarian government to co-finance its border fence with Serbia. “We are not financing the construction of fences or barriers at the external borders,” EU commission spokesperson, Alexander Winterstein, said at the end of last week. Budapest said it would erect a 175km fence along the Serbian border, which it completed last year, and then built another one on the border with Croatia. A second border fence on the Serbian border is currently being built and more than 3,000 border-hunters have been trained and put into service.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban had earlier addressed a letter to the EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker asking for a gesture of solidarity – about €400 million – a half of Hungary’s border protection spending. Mr. Orban, in his letter, said that his country deserved the money for having protected not only itself “but all of Europe against the flood of illegal migrants”. He also reminded that both Italy and Greece had received large sums from the EU commission to manage migration.
Budapest requested the EU to foot the bill on the grounds that all EU member states should “share the burden” but Commission spokesperson took the issue, noting Hungary’s refusal to take in asylum seekers from Greece and Italy. “Solidarity is a two-way street, and all member states should be ready to contribute. This is not some sort of a la carte menu where you pick one dish,” he said. The EU has already provided Hungary with more than €93 million from both the EU’s Asylum, Migration and Integration fund (AMIF) and the Internal Security fund (ISF). It also gave Hungary an additional €6 million in emergency funds.