Vilnius (dpa) – Sixteen EU countries signed a joint declaration on Friday calling on the EU to provide “adequate financial support” for measures against illegal migration.
According to the declaration, signed at the Conference on Border Management in Lithuania, “physical infrastructure” for border protection should also be financed from EU funds.
“Member states at the external borders and member states under pressure should be supported by the EU and EU agencies,” said Lithuanian Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite.
The European Commission, on the other hand, rejects demands it should bear the costs of building border fences to keep migrants out.
The conference was attended by representatives of EU and Schengen states, as well as officials of the European Commission and several EU authorities.
For months, thousands of migrants have been trying to reach the EU, usually via Belarus to Poland or the Baltic states.
Last year 8,000 irregular arrivals from Belarus registered. The same time we had 20,000 through the Eastern route, almost 70,000 on the Central Med Route to Italy and Malta. We had more than 40,000 on the Western Atlantic Route. To be able to fight this we need to have money also to prevent irregular departures. To help third partner countries to stop people, and to fight the smugglers along the routes.
Lithuania was particularly affected. The government in Vilnius reacted by building hundreds of kilometres of border fence.
Since August 2021, the Lithuanian border guard has been turning away migrants and was able to prevent more than 8,000 people from crossing the border illegally, Bilotaite said.