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Thursday, December 9, 2021

Migrants on the border of Poland and Belarus. What about EU financing of barriers at the border? Divergent positions of the European Commission and the European Council

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There is no agreement between the European Commission and the European Council regarding the financing by the European Union of the construction of a barrier on the Polish-Belarusian border. The president of the European Commission is against, and the head of the Council of Europe wants a debate on this matter. – We finance projects from European funds that have a clear aspect of added value for the Union. We have an integrated border management strategy at the EU level and we finance projects that contribute to the implementation of this concept – explained the European Commission spokesman for internal affairs and migration, Adalbert Jahnz, when asked about these issues.

The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, expresses her position against EU financing of the dam on the border between Poland and Belarus, which is also the border of the European Union. On the other hand, the head of the Council, Charles Michel, is in favor of a debate on this matter. The European Commission spokesman for internal affairs and migration, Adalbert Jahnz, was evasive when asked at the conference on Wednesday.

– President von der Leyen made our position on this very clear. I would also like to remind you in this context that our position is agreed with the European Parliament, he said.

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EC spokesman: we have an integrated border management strategy at EU level

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Jahnz pointed out that “it should be remembered what is the scale of European funding for border management and border infrastructure”. He pointed out that in the previous financial perspective 2014-2020, EUR 1.6 billion was secured for borders in the EU budget. He said that the funds were used to purchase a variety of equipment: from electronic surveillance systems to drones to cars.

– The assumption is that we finance projects from European funds that have a clear aspect of added value for the Union. We have an integrated border management strategy at the EU level and we finance projects that contribute to the implementation of this concept, he explained.

Asked whether he predicted a change in the position of the European Commission on the barrier on the Polish-Belarusian border, he replied: – I am not able to say anything about any future position. I explained what our current position is and why.

What about EU funding for a dam at the border? Michel: we will talk about it

The topic of financing barriers at the border appeared at the October European Council summit in Brussels. Some of the participating leaders of states and governments behind closed doors, including the most severely Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen, criticized the head of the European Commission for refusing to finance such fences at the external borders of the EU.

Ursula von der Leyen, however, remained adamant. She said the EU would not finance “barbed wire and walls” to contain the influx of migrants.

In the face of the escalation of the situation on the Polish-Belarusian border, this issue returns in discussions between EU decision-makers in Brussels and in EU capitals. Charles Michel, President of the European Council, is aware that many countries support the allocation of EU funds to the construction of an expensive, solid border barrier. In October, in a letter sent to the European Commission, twelve states called on the European Union to do so. The letter was signed by: Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and Slovakia.

Michel called on Tuesday in Berlin for EU action on the situation on the Polish-Belarusian border. – We have started a debate on the EU financing of physical border infrastructure. This must be done immediately, he said.

It is known unofficially that Michel wants a debate on this subject among EU leaders, which the Commission does not like. Such a debate could potentially take place at the EU summit in December, but due to the escalation of the situation on the EU’s external border, there was also a proposal to organize a special summit earlier.

>>> Border Guard: Three large groups tried to cross the border. One of them consisted of about 200 people

On Wednesday, Michel came to Poland and met with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Later at the conference he handed overthat he came because he wanted to express the solidarity of the entire European Union towards our country. He announced that in “the coming days” the Council, together with the Member States and the European Commission, will consider the possibilities of action that “would have a significant and real impact on the situation”.

– We will talk about physical infrastructure at the borders that would better protect the EU and the possibilities of its financing – Michel announced, recalling that there are “frontline” countries whose national borders are at the same time the borders of the European Union.

Michel: you have to act quickly and seriouslyTVN24

The crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border

On the Polish-Belarusian border there is a crisis. On Monday, large groups of migrants tried to force their way to Poland. The Ministry of National Defense announced in the afternoon that a massive attempt to cross the border had been stopped. There are over a dozen thousand officers of the Border Guard, police and army on the spot.

A spokeswoman for the Podlasie Border Guard Division, Major Katarzyna Zdanowicz said on Wednesday that it had happened on Tuesday three attempts to cross the border with Belarus in the vicinity of Krynki, Białowieża and Dubicze Cerkiewne. She added that one of the groups numbered about two hundred people. “These people were brought back to Belarus,” she said.

Since September 2, due to the migratory pressure, a state of emergency has been in force in 183 towns in the Podlaskie and Lubelskie provinces adjacent to the border with Belarus. A dam is to be built on the border with Belarus in the first half of 2022.

When reporting on the events at the border, the media can use almost exclusively official government recordings and information. Journalists have no access to the area covered by the state of emergency.

A state of emergency on the eastern borderPAP

Main photo source: EPA / Olivier Matthys



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