Wednesday

16th Aug 2017

EU funds for Bulgaria target border security

Around 80 percent of the European Commission's emergency funding to Bulgaria announced earlier this month is slated for border security and surveillance.

A Bulgarian government spokeswoman told this website on Tuesday (27 September) that most of it will go towards financing border surveillance, border guards, and other equipment.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"Only like 20 percent of the funding is about increasing the reception facilities. Most of the funding is for equipment and vehicles," she said.

Bulgaria wants the EU to help pay for securing the external borders given budgetary constraints.

The spokeswoman told EUobserver that migrant arrivals were lower than last year but higher now than at the start of 2016.

"We are out of our own resources," she said.

On 15 September, its interior ministry submitted an official request to the EU commission for €160 million in aid to cover a handful of projects.

A day later on 16 September, the commission said it would release a €108 million emergency package to improve Bulgaria's "border and migration management." And Bulgarian authorities are expecting another €52 million top-up.

"I want to see at least 200 extra border guards and 50 extra vehicles deployed at the Bulgarian external borders as of October," said commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in Strasbourg the day before the official request.

Some 173 guards have been deployed so far.

Bulgaria has a 127.3-kilometre fence with Turkey. Another 55.7 kilometres is under construction as of mid-September.

But some people, especially from Afghanistan, still manage to cross through it in the hope of reaching Serbia before heading further north to Germany or Sweden.

Frontex says some 6,000 migrants were detected at Bulgaria's borders with Turkey and Serbia this year.

Those caught are sent to one of three detention facilities in Bulgaria where they are identified and fingerprinted.

Most apply for asylum and are then sent to one of six reception facilities throughout the country. Few, especially those from Afghanistan, obtain international protection.

'Quite critical' situation

Bulgarian authorities say Turkey has also refused to accept any returns. Around 14,000 are now stuck in Bulgaria as of September, according to the country's interior ministry.

"We keep on sending requests and we don't receive an answer," said the Bulgarian government contact.

Meanwhile, those housed in reception and detention facilities are faced with overcrowding and poor conditions.

"The situation is really quite critical," Mariana Stoyanova, who oversees the refugee migrant service at the Red Cross in Sophia, told EUobserver.

"We have stranded migrants in the country and reception capacity is full," she said.

She said detention centres have also reached 180 percent overcapacity and are in dire need of repairs. The three centres can host around 1,000 people but now have more than 1,600.

People are not allowed to be detained for more than six months. However, a court order can extend it to 18 months. After 18 months, they are released and monitored by authorities, she said.

"The number of unaccompanied and separated children is also on the rise, which is quite a worrying trend," said Stoyanova.

She noted more than 1,200 boys from Afghanistan are registered as unaccompanied minors. Those under 14 are sent to orphanages.

Balkan leaders pledge to keep out migrants

Balkan leaders said in New York there would be no repetition of last year's mass influx of refugees, as the EU prepares to launch a new border force to keep people out.

Bulgarian PM threatens to quit

Boyko Borissov says he will resign if his ally Tsetska Tsacheva is beaten in the second round of presidential elections.

NGOs divided by Italy's new rescue code

Five charities have refused to sign up to Italy's EU-backed code of conduct for NGOs that rescue migrants in the Mediterranean sea, saying the new rules put lives at risk.

News in Brief

  1. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  2. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns
  3. Danish police to investigate misuse of EU fishing rules
  4. German constitutional court questions ECB's €2tn spending
  5. Low support for Norway's labour party ahead of elections
  6. Slovakia's future is with core EU, says PM
  7. Italy relieved as migration drops to lowest level since 2014
  8. Eurozone industrial production slips

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  2. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  3. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  4. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  5. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  6. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  7. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  8. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  9. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  10. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides
  11. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  12. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey