Hungary's border fence – Photo: wikipedia

Finance Minister: Hungary calls on EU to contribute to border protection costs

The costs of Hungary's border protection are expected to amount to more than 650 billion forints (EUR 1.7bn) this year, and the European Union has funded less than 1 percent of the costs since 2015, Finance Minister Mihaly Varga said on Friday.

Speaking before a meeting of EU finance ministers in Stockholm, the minister called on the European Commission to detail “when and how it will help the countries protecting the Schengen borders fund costs related to migration”, according to a ministry statement.

The ECOFIN meeting will focus on economic challenges facing the EU, Varga said. Inflation, skyrocketing due to the war in Ukraine and the EU’s sanctions on Russia, will be a focal point, he added. Hungary’s government is working to push inflation into single digits by year-end to protect its economy from recession, Varga said.

Budgetary balance is another focus of the meeting, at a time when the “war and sanctions-related crisis came hard on the heels of the Covid pandemic,” Varga said. Disciplined fiscal policy can help to get the economy back on track, he said.

“Hungary is on the right track,” he said, adding that the public debt would slip below 70 percent of GDP this year, while the EU average remains at 84 percent. The budget deficit is also being curbed, and it is targeted to fall to below 3 percent next year, he said. The economy is expected to rebound to a path of robust growth in 2024, he said.

While “the Hungarian budget is resilient”, Varga warned that the costs of border protection and stopping illegal migration were growing. “We won’t give up on getting the European Union to foot the bill,” he said.

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