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Govʼt criticizes Brussels for lack of border protection reimbursement

Hungarian government spokesperson István Hollik criticized Brussels for only offering to reimburse some 1% of border protection expenses, according to official state news portal kormany.hu.

Hollik said the European Commission had taken more than two yeas to respond to the government’s request, and had pledged to pay a sum of HUF 6.6 billion only.

He recalled that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán had first contacted Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in 2017, asking the EC to reimburse half of the costs of the construction of the border fence and of Hungary’s ongoing border protection efforts. 

The government has justified the request for financial assistance by arguing that it is not just protecting its national borders, but also the Schengen visa-free travel zone covering much of the rest of the EU.

Hollik said that since the construction of the fence in 2015, the Hungarian government has spent HUF 504 bln on border protection. He accused the Brussels leadership of being pro-immigration, claiming that it had done everything it could to play for time, and not to contribute to Hungary’s border protection expenses. Its goal was to legalize migration, and to bring as many immigrants to Europe as possible, the spokesperson alleged.

Border with Serbia

According to Hollik’s information, the EC has now decided to reimburse EUR 20 million, the equivalent of HUF 6.6 bln, from the expenses Hungary has incurred. This sum can only be spent this year on financing the staff patrolling the Hungarian-Serbian border section.

Hollik said that the government hopes that the new European Commission, which takes up office in November, will regard the protection of the EU’s external borders as a primary task, and will be prepared to support member states, including Hungary. 

He said Hungary continues to maintain that what it regards as illegal migration is a threat to Europe’s security, and also continues to maintain  its request that Brussels should reimburse half of the expenses, Hollik added.