Greece has reportedly asked the European Commission to use EU funds to extend the fence it has built on Evros at the border with Turkey to prevent illegal migrants from entering the country.
Greece has already built a 40 kilometers (25 miles) of the fence near the Evros river crossing. Athens is looking for EU money for 80 more kilometers.
Greece is looking to prevent a recurrence of the events of 2020, when thousands of migrants and asylum seekers tried to storm the Greek border at Evros, demanding to pass through to the EU.
As Politico’s Playbook reports, Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi recently sent a request to the Commission arguing that Greece is legally allowed to use EU funds it receives through DG Home’s Border Management and Visa Policy scheme to fund the construction of physical barriers.
Greece has not been alone in calling for EU funds to build barriers on its borders. Several central European countries have also joined Greece in the demand but were rebuffed by the Commission president.
Debate on Greece’s request for EU funds for the border fence intensifies
Ursula von der Leyen will not allow for EU funds to be used for “barbed wire and walls,” but European Council President Charles Michel contradicted her and threw his weight behind the idea, saying that it could legally be done, Politico reports.
The debate about whether the EU will finance border fences and walls for its member states will intensify in the next weeks says Politico, as intensive discussions are taking place about its migration plan for the 2021 to 2027 period at the European Commission.
Greece under scrutiny over migrant pushbacks
The journal reports that Greece is already under scrutiny in Brussels over alleged pushbacks of migrants in the Aegean.
Although an investigation by Greece’s national transparency watchdog found no basis for reports of migrant pushbacks by Greek authorities, allegations persist.
A large number of European media outlets, including Der Spiegel, Lighthouse Reports, and the French daily Libération last year said that special units of the Hellenic Coast Guard were involved in turning migrants around at sea.
In February, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) called for Greece to stop pushing back migrants who are attempting to seek asylum in the country.
Greek politicians denied the accusations that such pushbacks were taking place, claiming that the UNHCR has been misled by Turkish propaganda. Turkey recently bolstered its claims that Greece was responsible for the deaths of migrants pushed back from its borders.