Juncker to Orbán: European solidarity ‘is two-way street’
The European Commission in ready to “swiftly examine” Hungary’s request for additional financial support for protecting the European Union’s external borders in specific and urgent cases, president of the commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said in a letter to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, adding that “solidarity is a two-way street”.
Last week, Orbán turned to the commission with a request that the EU pay Hungary half the 883 million euro border protection costs incurred by the country.
Juncker in his reply welcomed Hungary’s call for “more Europe in the area of migration and border management, building on the principle of solidarity”.
The commission president noted that Hungary had rejected the offer to relieve the country of 54,000 migrants in 2015, as well as EU advance payment of 4 million euros. He added that Hungary had been able to rely on other forms of operational and financial support between 2014 and 2015, and had received three emergency grants amounting to 6.26 million euros. Juncker’s letter also notes 40 million euros of Internal Security Fund money for the period 2014-2020.
Juncker also mentioned the structural funds that are available to Hungary amounting to 25 billion euros in the 2014-2020 period, or 3 percent of the country’s GDP, which he noted was the highest proportion for any member state.
He said the commission was ready to examine Hungary’s request and would extend support to the country “in the case of specific urgent needs”.
“Solidarity is not an a-la-carte dish: one that can be chosen for border management and rejected when it comes to complying with relocation decisions that have been jointly agreed,” Juncker wrote.
The letter did not refer to a previous statement by a commission spokesperson on Friday, who said Brussels was not willing to provide support for the building of a border fence.