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Aug 28, 2019 - Zoltán Kovács

Is this what Brussels calls solidarity?

Two years ago, Prime Minister Orbán asked the European Commission to support Hungary – and the EU’s own border defense efforts – by covering half of what it cost to reinforce our southern border, a fence erected in 2015 on an important external border of the EU that has blocked a major human trafficking route and reduced illegal crossings into the EU along that border to close to zero. We had to wait a while for the response, and the answer they gave us is a disgrace.

In 2015, at a time when the sight of illegal migrants camping out in front of a railway station in downtown Budapest had become the everyday reality, the Orbán Government set out to put an end to the situation that allowed more than 400,000 immigrants to march across the EU’s Schengen Area border and through our country.

The solution was simple, yet difficult. By mid-September, Hungary built a physical barrier – a border fence –along the Hungarian-Serbian border that intercepted what is known as the Western Balkan Migration Route and led to an immediate drop in the number of illegal border crossings. With the construction of the fence, Hungary is fulfilling its obligations as a party to the EU’s Schengen Agreement – can all Schengen member states say the same? – protecting an external border of the Schengen Area and providing security not only to Hungarians but all EU citizens.

The erection of the barrier and its security, however, required significant investment from Hungarian taxpayers. In 2017, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán submitted to Jean-Claude Juncker a request that the European Commission should pay for half of Hungary’s border protection costs. At that point, we were talking about roughly 270 billion HUF (800 million EUR). The cost has now exceeded the 500 billion HUF mark (1.5 billion EUR).

Yesterday, Brussels dropped a bomb, a little parting gift from the apparatus of the outgoing Commission. They announced that they are willing to give 6.6 billion HUF (20 million EUR) to ease the burden on Hungary. That’s little more than one percent of what it cost us.

After waiting two years, we are reminded that the oft-repeated idea of “European solidarity,” in fact, works only one way. It applies to pro-migration actors and policies and dismisses those of us who say that illegal migration should be stopped and the EU’s border protected.

Fortunately, this European Commission is on its way out. These are the last gasps of a failed, pro-migration Brussels elite. We remain hopeful that the new EC leadership will be more serious about stopping illegal immigration.