Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will ask the European Union to pay €400 million to help Hungary pay for its border protection expenses, including a newly built fence on its border with Serbia, chief of staff János Lázár said Thursday. Speaking at a press conference with government spokesman Zoltán Kovács, Lázár said the EU should pay 50 percent of the €800 million total border protection cost, saying that “European solidarity should also be shown in practise.” Hungary, the minister argued, “was protecting all the citizens of Europe from the flood of illegal migrants,” warning that “double standards cannot be applied.”
Hungary began building border fences on its border with Serbia, a non-EU country, in 2015 during the height of the migrant crisis without the EU’s support. A second fence was finished in April this year. The European Commission does “not promote the use of fences” and “we have only recently taken down walls in Europe, we should not be putting them up,” a spokesman said in 2015. The EU is pursuing multiple infringement proceedings against Hungary related to its treatment of migrants. Since April, countries like Germany have chafed at Budapest’s treatment of asylum seekers, halting refugee resettlements until Hungary can guarantee their conditions have improved. This year, the government announced that it will detain asylum seekers in “shelters” near its border with Serbia until their status is determined.