Germany’s interior minister said Sunday it was “legal” to defend borders after several EU countries asked Brussels to pay for barriers preventing illegal migrants from entering the bloc.
The call came earlier this month when Poland offered to build a € 350 million ($ 410 million) wall on the border with Belarus to keep out migrants.
The EU accuses the Belarusian authorities of bringing migrants from the Middle East and Africa to Minsk and then sending them on foot to the bloc in response to the sanctions imposed in connection with the suppression of the opposition.
Asked if a Polish border wall is needed, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said that border protection was justified.
“It is legal for us to protect the external border in such a way as to prevent undetected border crossings,” he told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday.
The increase in the number of people illegally crossing the EU’s eastern border with Belarus puts a serious strain on member states that are not used to dealing with mass arrivals.
Seehofer also said that Germany would tighten controls on the German-Polish border and that eight hundred police groups had already been deployed.
“If necessary, I am ready to strengthen it even more,” he said.
Since the beginning of the year, around 5,700 people have crossed the border between Germany and Poland without an entry permit, according to the German Interior Ministry.
Seehofer last week wrote to his Polish counterpart, Mariusz Kaminski, proposing to increase joint border patrols with Poland in response to the growing number of migrants.
Kaminski responded that Poland would “fully support” such measures.
However, Seehofer also said last week that Germany had no plans to close its border with Poland, adding that such a move would also be “legally dubious.”
Earlier this month, officials from countries such as Poland, Lithuania and Greece advocated the creation of barriers at EU borders to counter efforts to turn migration into a weapon.
Brussels has so far shied away from funding border walls for member states, insisting that the existing legal framework allows it to use EU budget funds only for “border management systems”.