Twelve EU countries ask the Brussels Commission to finance walls and barriers to stop migrants. Slovenia also agrees, but has not signed the letter, holding the role of the rotating presidency of the European Union. Almost half of the member states are not only in favor of walls, but would like the EU budget to pay for the barriers. On the continent that has been divided for nearly half a century by the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall it sounds like a tragic mockery of history. The signatories are Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia. Countries that have largely already erected barriers to stop migrants.
“Physical barriers seem to be an effective protection measure that serves the interests of the entire EU, not just the member countries of first arrival – reads the letter of 7 October – This legitimate measure should be financed in an additional and adequate way through the EU budget as an urgent issue “.
The ministers of the interior of the pro-barrier countries have sent the official request to the vice president of the EU Commission Margaritis Schinas and to the commissioner for internal affairs Ylva Johansson. Europe “needs to adapt the existing legal framework to new realities” such as the “exploitation of irregular immigration”. The twelve countries argue that “in practice border surveillance does not prevent people from attempting to cross them illegally and it would therefore be useful to supplement it with further preventive measures”. Half the EU argues that “we need new tools that allow us to avoid the serious consequences of overloaded migration and asylum systems and exhausted reception capacities”.
The request coincides with yesterday’s meeting of European interior ministers in Luxembourg. European Commissioner Johannson replied that EU countries “have the right and responsibility to protect their borders. If a Member State thinks it is necessary to build a fence it can do so and I have nothing to object to. ” But it is against using EU resources.
Several European countries have already built barriers or are planning walls to stem migrants, often used as a weapon of political pressure, as Belarus is doing in retaliation for EU sanctions. In August, Poland erected the first 3 kilometers of barriers, but the plan is to build a much longer “wall” of 2.5 meters. The Lithuanian parliament has voted to build a 4 meter high metal barrier along the Belarusian border which will cost 152 million euros. The first to do so were the Hungarians in 2015 to stem the million Syrians who came from the Balkan route. Little Slovenia has deployed a 179-kilometer long fence with Croatia. “We must also protect the borders with physical barriers,” said Ales Hojs, Interior Minister of Ljubljana, who holds the European presidency.
Greece is closing its borders with Turkey, as has Bulgaria. And in turn the Turks have just built a wall in the Van region bordering Iran to stop the Afghans, who had risen even before the Taliban victory. About 200 watchtowers from which drones are piloted and thermal surveillance cameras aimed were funded by the EU. Brussels pays for Erdogan’s “wall”, but wrinkles if a dozen member states ask to do the same.