Tuesday

19th Jun 2018

Hungary demands EU payments for border wall

  • Hungary says it has spent €800 million on border fences. (Photo: Freedom House)

The Hungarian government is demanding the EU pay for half of the border wall erected along its southern borders to stave off migrants.

Hungary has spent some €800 million erecting fortified fences over the years on its borders with Serbia and Croatia, a move it says defends the rest of the European Union against unwanted migrants.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

The demand for the EU to pay €400 million was made on Thursday (31 August) by Janos Lazar, the prime minister's chief of staff, who told reporters that "Brussels should pay its share".

Earlier this week, the government decided to extend a state of emergency for another six months because of what it says is a threat of terrorism posed by mass immigration.

But the €400 million demand is likely to receive short shrift from the European Commission, which has said in the past that such fences and walls are a national issue it cannot condone.

In 2012, the Commission condemned a Greek-erected 12.5 km fence along the Turkish border to prevent migrant crossings, although the EU had co-financed some two dozen thermal vision cameras set up around the same area.

Hungary, for its part, had also introduced rules that allow authorities to apprehend anyone caught within an 8 km zone from its border fences and return them to so-called transit zones set up in 2015 on the other side. Some 19,000 had been sent back last year to Serbia or blocked from entering the country.

It has also set up shipping container units to house asylum seekers along the borders in conditions described by civil rights groups as prison-like.

Hungary's latest demand also comes ahead soon-expected rulings from the European Court of Justice (ECJ), following complaints against the EU's relocation scheme. The scheme initially aimed to relocate 120,000 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy to other EU states over a two-year period.

Both Hungary and Slovakia had asked the Court to annul the decision on the basis that enforcing the scheme was illegal. But in July, the Court's advocate general recommended, in a non-binding opinion, that the Court dismiss the cases.

The two-year relocation scheme's provisional deadline is this month, with only around 25,000 people moved from Greece and Italy as of late July. With fewer and fewer people eligible for relocation, the EU commission is now calling the scheme a success, despite the original target being much higher.

"It is perfectly feasible for member states to carry out the relocations and make the programme a success," a Commission spokesperson told reporters on Thursday.

Hungary and Poland have not taken any, and the Czech Republic has not relocated anyone since last year. All three may end up at the ECJ after the EU Commission launched infringements against them.

As of July, only Malta, Latvia, and Norway - a non-EU member state - have met their relocation quotas.

Fewer refugees to be relocated as EU revises targets

An initial plan to relocate 160,000, which was later amended to 98,000, now appears to drop even further after the European Commission said the new objective was to dispatch only eligible asylum seekers from Italy and Greece.

Investigation

Fortress Europe: a Greek wall close up

A 12.5km fence rolled with barbwire along the Greek Turkish border is part of a larger initiative to secure Europe from migrants seeking a better life.

EU summit set to outsource asylum

Draft conclusions of the EU summit seen by this website suggest setting up "regional disembarkation platforms", possibly in countries near Libya, to separate asylum seekers and economic migrants.

EU states set to back some asylum reform laws

Efforts to reform 'Dublin', a regulation that determines who is responsible for asylum applications, remain mired in controversy. But other less contentious reforms that make up EU asylum laws have already reached provisional agreements.

Opinion

EU summit: migrants get a 'vote' too

Non-citizens from Nigeria to Afghanistan get a binding 'vote' on whatever the EU's internal debates submit to them. They will vote with their feet on whether to keep trying their luck when faced with a new system.

Opinion

The Aquarius migrant boat - and the EU policy failings

The precarious situation the Aquarius and its passengers found themselves is a consequence of EU member states' failure to manage migration in a strategic and coordinated manner, where member states beyond those receiving new arrivals are part of the solution.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  3. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  4. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  6. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  10. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  11. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us