Hungary’s fence helps stop illegal immigration to Europe. Will the EU ever help pay for it?

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and League President Matteo Salvini on the Hungarian-Serbian border. (MTI)
By Dénes Albert
3 Min Read

The European Union should reimburse part of the additional costs of Hungary’s border defense since the onset of the migration crisis, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán wrote in a letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

“Europe’s fragile stability is due to Hungary and, with it, to the member states that have successfully protected the EU’s external borders,” Orbán wrote.

As Orbán explains in the two-page letter, Hungary alone has so far spent 590 billion forints (€1.64 billion) on border protection from the national budget.

“Hungarian border protection measures have recently become a model. It can be seen that in 2021, in addition to Hungary, Greece, Spain, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland have built or are building border protective barriers,” wrote Orbán.

At the same time, the prime minister recalled that on Oct. 7, a total of 12 member states demanded in a joint letter that fencing should also be supported from the EU budget as it was a proven effective border protection measure.

“I myself took this position in my speech at the last European Council,” he said.

According to Orbán, it is time for the European Commission to do what it should have done years ago: to recognize that the protection of external borders is an unquestionable form of European solidarity, thus supporting and recognizing these efforts of the member states.

“It is impossible to turn a blind eye to the fact that Hungary has spent significant resources, money and human resources on protecting the European Union’s external borders over the past six years. I therefore call once again on the European Commission to reimburse the costs of Hungarian border protection measures,” he wrote, adding that the EU’S previous rejection is the result of a misinterpretation of the rules by the European Commission.

In September 2017, Orbán sent a similar letter to then Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker asking him to reimburse half of the €800 million spent to that date, but that letter had no effect.

In the letter to von der Leyen, Orbán stressed that in the light of the Afghan crisis and hybrid threats from Belarus, it can be stated that migratory pressures will not decrease in the near future.

“Hungary has committed itself to stopping illegal migration along the southern, external borders of the European Union. It is now up to the European Union to act responsibly and make a fair contribution to our efforts and costs.”

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