EC spokesman says EU will not finance border barriers

A European Commission spokesman has told PAP that the European Union has long maintained that it will not offer funds for barbed wire and barriers at its borders.

Stefan De Keersmaecker made the statement when asked by PAP about an appeal made by Manfred Weber, the head of the European People's Party (EPP), at the European Parliament for EU funds for a barrier at Poland's and the EU's border with Belarus.

Weber said last week that he supported an appeal signed by 12 countries calling for EU funds to finance the barrier. He added that Lithuania, Latvia and Poland deserved "our full support, including EU funds for a wall at the border." Apart from Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, the appeal was also signed by Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Hungary and Slovakia.

De Keersmaecker said that one should never forget the historic significance of the tearing down of walls and fences dividing the European continent.

He recalled that the EU mission was to build a Europe, which will continue to develop fundamental rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law.

He added that, on the other hand, the EC - in cooperation with other EU agencies - has actively supported long-term advanced solutions for managing its borders and their supervision.

De Keersmaecker stated that, in the years 2014-2020, EU member states had received a total of EUR 2.8 billion for such long-term projects and assistance in crisis situations. Plans provide for EUR 6.4 billion in the years 2021-2027, he added.

Poland's Prime Minister said on Thursday that Poland was not dependent on EU funding for the barrier project but added that were the EU to decide to finance the wall on the Polish-Belarusian border the funds would be accepted.

Mateusz Morawiecki stated that Poland had already secured adequate funds for the construction of the barrier.

Deputy interior minister Maciej Wasik told the Senate (upper house) on Wednesday that Poland had applied to the EU Integrated Border Management Fund for a sum of over EUR 200 million to gain co-financing of the barrier and for special equipment for border guards.

The government wants to build a wall on the border with Belarus due to migratory pressure. The estimated cost of constructing border barriers is PLN 1.6 billion (EUR 350 million).

Poland, Lithuania and Latvia have accused the Belarusian government of pushing migrants across the border in an effort to destabilise the EU in retaliation for sanctions that Brussels has imposed on Minsk.

Areas in Poland close to the border with Belarus have been under a state of emergency since September 2. The press is barred from visiting the area covered by the state of emergency.