The EU will Not Fund Border Fences, Only Infrastructure

EU | February 10, 2023, Friday // 09:32|  views

The Bulgarian-Turkish border fence

The EU will not finance the construction of fences along its external borders.

This became clear from the words of the President of the European Commission, as well as from the conclusions of the special European Council in Brussels.

Borders will be secured through an integrated package of mobile and fixed infrastructure that the EU plans to provide,” said von der Leyen after the summit ended early this morning. The package is part of Brussels pilot projects.

One of the projects we're targeting has an existing fence, but nothing more. It doesn't work. It is clear that you need cameras, means of surveillance, roads along the border for patrols, equipped personnel, observation towers, vehicles," said the EC President.

There are three sources of funding for this.

The first is national funding, where a country is free to give money for what it deems necessary.

The second option is bilateral financing, i.e. from one member country to another. This is also one of the options of the solidarity mechanism.

There is also funding from the EU and Von der Leyen pointed out that it is very clear what the money is being given for.

"The focus is to have an external border, to know that if someone comes to it, there is a procedure that should be the same for external borders," she summarized.

A pilot project will also be launched to help the EU deal with the need to quickly return migrants. Frontex, the EU Asylum Agency and Europol will help here.

Leaders agreed that member states would mutually recognize return decisions. If such a decision is taken in one EU country, it will also be valid in the other 26. This means that if the person goes to another member country, it will not be necessary to repeat the already applied procedures, explained Ursula von der Leyen.

The use of the concept of safe third parties will also be expanded. This will pave the way for a common European list and a common approach to increase returns.

What will the next sanctions against Russia include?

The 10th sanctions package against Russia will mostly include goods that are indispensable,” said Ursula von der Leyen. It will affect exports worth 10 billion euros.

It is primarily about technologies and spare parts that are used by the Kremlin's military complex.

"We can do it because we are the only supplier," Von der Leyen pointed out.

And she added that when, for example, the Ukrainian armed forces shoot down an Iranian drone, the EU analyzes its components in detail. And if there are any coming from its member countries, it should be done so that their export to Russia and Iran is prohibited.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived specially to participate in the meeting. He proposed imposing sanctions on the Russian state company Rosatom. But neither at the press conference with him, nor after the end of the European Council, Ursula von der Leyen mentioned restrictive measures in the field of energy.

At the same time, Estonian Prime Minister Kaia Kalas proposed at the beginning of the meeting that the EU member states jointly purchase arms and ammunition for Ukraine. However, no decision was made.

"We felt that there was a need for better preparation on how to make progress on this important issue," explained European Council President Charles Michel. – “However, the good thing is that the fact that we felt broad support for the principle of acting together, in a more European way. There must be a common approach to ensure that the industrial sector accelerates the production of ammunition. This way we will meet our commitments and ensure that we replenish our stocks, and the European Council will be able to be more specific in the talks.”

Facilitated state aid for clean technologies

The EU will take urgent measures to enable targeted, time-limited and proportionate state aid in areas such as clean technologies, which are central to the green transition.

These measures are a response to increased government aid in the US under the American Inflation Reduction Act. At the European Council, Ursula von der Leyen presented the Industrial Plan for the Green Transition to the leaders of the member states.

State aid authorization procedures should be made easier, faster and more predictable. Instruments such as the Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI) should have more transparency and their development and evaluation should be faster.

Funding at EU level is needed to facilitate the green transition across the Union. Access to the funds should therefore be facilitated.

There must be easy and clear conditions for investment in the EU. Among them is ensuring access to key raw materials needed for industries linked to achieving climate neutrality targets by 2050.

Training, knowledge improvement and retraining in the field of green and digital transition are also extremely important.

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