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Index – Economy – Mihaly Varga took an unprecedented step, and Brussels' response has arrived, they are coming to the border fence

Index – Economy – Mihaly Varga took an unprecedented step, and Brussels' response has arrived, they are coming to the border fence

“It started out awkward in Brussels because Hungary finances the defense of the EU's common borders with its own money” – this is how Mihaly Varga assessed the fact that Johannes Hahn, EU Budget Commissioner, accepted his invitation to visit the southern border of the EU. border.

As we wrote previously, the story goes back to December, when Finance Minister Mihaly Varga wrote an official letter to Johannes Hahn, the Commissioner responsible for Budgetary and Administrative Affairs at the European Commission. “The protection of the EU's common borders is based on a consensus dating back many decades. The essence of the original legislative idea was that Member States located on the external borders of the Community provide border protection from common financing,” the letter said.

The Prime Minister confirmed:

The migration crisis has now led to a situation in which this intention has not been fully realised.

Since 2015, Hungary has thwarted nearly one million illegal border crossings in the southern part of the country's Schengen border. Migration pressure is increasing. This year alone, Hungarian border guards have taken action against 100,000 illegal immigrants.

Mihaly Varga achieved what he wanted

All this places an increasing burden on the national budget: from the outbreak of the migration crisis until the writing of Varga's previous letter (almost until last December), Hungary has spent more than 1.6 billion euros on border protection, the EU's contribution to these costs. Barely more than one percent, and Mihaly Varga called to draw attention to this regularly.

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Then he decided in December The Finance Minister is to write to the EU Budget Commissioner with a view to getting the EU to contribute more to the costs of border protection in Hungary.

Mihaly Varga has now announced to Index that the EU Budget Commissioner has finally accepted his invitation and is visiting Hungary.

The meeting could be held in the second half of June. “Hungary has created the most effective border protection system in the EU on the southern border, and our expenditures for this exceed 700 billion Hungarian forints – while the EU contribution represents only a small percentage of this amount,” concluded Mihaly Varga.

According to the Finance Minister, the Budget Commissioner's visit in June is the first step towards Brussels taking a greater role in the costs of protecting our borders.

The Hungarian position is clear: it is ridiculous and impossible for our country to be punished with 6 million Hungarian forints per day to protect Europe and not accept immigrants. On the contrary: instead of a penalty, we expect a fair and proportionate contribution to the costs of border protection, and I will represent that at the hearing as well.

Finance Minister Mihaly Varga told Index.

It is also worth noting that Gergely Gulyás, the minister responsible for the Prime Minister's Office, said on Thursday that the European Union would impose a fine of 6 million forints on Hungary per day due to the legal closure of the border. In this regard, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday: This is a fact.

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The Prime Minister stated: The European Court of Justice has made its decision and says that after Hungary refuses to accept migrants, we must pay 6 million Hungarian forints daily to Brussels.

Which is appalling in itself, so it's not just outrageous, it's appalling that anyone would come and tell Hungarians who they should let in here. I cannot imagine a player in world politics who has the right to say to the Hungarians, dear Hungarians, you do not say who can enter the territory of your country, but we will do it. This is impossible, ridiculous, impossible!

Viktor Orbán then highlighted: “Not only do we have to fight with the migrants, from Brussels they are shooting Hungary from behind, and they do not give us a penny to protect them, but they take 6 million Hungarian forints a day for them.” “Our pockets because we don't allow migrants into Hungary. So the whole situation is impossible as it is.”

A huge burden on the budget

As mentioned above, from the outbreak of the migration crisis until the end of last year, the Hungarian government spent approximately 1.6 billion euros on border protection, of which the European Union contributed less than 1%. At the current exchange rate, this means 620 billion HUF.

Daniel Molnar, an analyst at the Macronum Institute, said in this regard: This is certainly a large amount. “In comparison, if the EU then provides half the above-mentioned amount, it would mean more income than the government expects this year from payments to financial organisations, the small business tax or the business tax, while on the spending side, this year’s appropriations amount to $227,” the analyst highlighted. One billion Hungarian forints to support babysitting can be highlighted as a benchmark.

Another comparison is worth making: in the 2021-2027 EU budget cycle, Hungary will receive around €43 billion. Therefore, the €1.6 billion announced by Finance Minister Mihály Varga represents approximately 4% of this amount, while if we compare it only with the cohesion resources that promote catch-up, it represents more than 7% of this amount.

Within the budget, the government is free to recombine different amounts of money, and there are very few restrictive provisions. “From this point of view, the EU's subsequent reimbursement of border protection costs would represent meaningful budget income. This would reduce the deficit, which would allow for a faster reduction of the national debt, and through which further support for economic growth could also be achieved.”

(Cover photo: Mihaly Varga on December 13, 2023. Photo: Kata Nemeth/Index)