Luxembourg – Interior Minister Aleš Hojs endorsed a letter in which 12 EU states urge financing fences on the EU borders with EU funds as he chaired a meeting of home affairs ministers in Luxembourg on Friday. Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said she understood erecting fences but disagrees it should be done with EU funds.
Lithuania, Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Poland and Slovakia jointly urged the European Commission to enable the use of EU funds for erecting fences or other obstacles on the EU external borders.
It is not customary for EU presiding countries to join such initiatives and Slovenia is not among the signatories, but Hojs nevertheless supported the letter.
“We disagree in opinions with the respected commissioner… We support the proposal of the members signed,” he told the press after the ministerial.
Hojs noted that Slovenia had closed part of its border with Croatia with a fence and would continue to do so.
Johansson said that she understood the reasons for which member states set up fences and that she had nothing against it.
However, she does not think it a good idea to use EU money for this, stressing the funds for addressing migration challenges were rather limited.
Today’s ministerial discussed migration challenges against the backdrop of video footage showing violence against migrants on the EU’s external borders in Croatia and Greece.
The Commission labelled the images as “shocking” and urged a thorough investigation, arguing they suggested the violence was orchestrated and EU funds abused.
Today’s heated debate stressed the need to protect the external border and the European values.
While Johansson said both should be protected, Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis said one should also make sure that smugglers do not benefit from the EU values.
Commenting on the video footage, Hojs said interior ministers must protect borders. In case of a dilemma between pushbacks and fence, he would definitely choose erecting the fence, he said, adding the Croatian and Greek ministers had announced the incidents would be investigated.
Croatia has already suspended three members of a special police unit for serious violations of duties along the border with Bosnia-Herzegovina, while the investigation is ongoing.