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Hungary: Orban asks for EU funding to build border fence


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The Hungarian Prime Minister showed his mood ahead of the Summit that will be held on Thursday in Brussels

THE Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban today called for funding from the European Union to build border fences, ahead of a summit of European bloc leaders on tackling irregular immigration.

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The 27-member summit was convened after Austria and the Netherlands led escalating protests over the growing number of arrivals. The EU border agency reported 330,000 irregular crossings last year, the highest number since 2016.

Deep divisions among the 27 EU countries over the management of migration remain since the refugee crisis of 2015-2016.

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Countries like Poland, Hungary and Slovenia have erected border fences to keep out refugees and migrants, although the European Commission, which manages the bloc’s common budget, has so far refused to pay for such fences, saying it is against liberal democratic values and human rights.

In a phone call with his counterparts from Poland, Belgium, Finland, Malta and Bulgaria, Orban called for EU funding for such projects, saying “fences protect all of Europe,” according to the head of its press service, the Hungarian state news agency MTI reported.

The head of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyenhas previously refused to fund “wire fences or walls” although the European Commission is offering money for border infrastructure such as surveillance equipment.

The EU says Syrians, Afghans and Tunisians make up the majority of those who arrived in the EU last year, and that only about a third of those people will be granted asylum, while the rest will have to be turned away.

Earlier today, in a joint letter, eight countries of the European Union, including Greece, called for an “innovative” reform of the asylum system and the strengthening of border protection ahead of the EU summit, while calling to avoid a ” new major migration crisis”.

“The current asylum system is flawed” and it is “time for an innovative response”, write Austria, Denmark, Greece, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Slovakia.

The countries that signed the letter expressed hope that there would be “tangible progress” on Thursday and Friday on the occasion of the EU summit in Brussels.

Faced with an increase in irregular arrivals, the eight countries want “to strengthen the protection of external borders”, mainly through “infrastructure development”.

The countries signing the letter also express a desire to “increase the number of rapid returns”, “develop new partnerships with countries of origin of migrants” and “enhance communication” to discourage would-be migrants.

In late January, European Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said she was confident that the asylum reform, which has been under discussion since September 2020, will be adopted before the 2024 European elections.

But deep divisions among the 27 EU countries over migration and refugee management mean agreeing a new, comprehensive immigration and asylum system for the Union by the next European elections in 2024 is a difficult task.

Human rights groups criticize the EU’s increasingly restrictive approach to immigration as illegal and inhumane.


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