Thousands of migrants from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and other crisis areas have been arriving in Bulgaria, which they see as a gateway to the European Union.
Conservative Prime Minister Boyko Borisov’s cabinet last week drafted amendments to the Public Procurement Act, allowing it to pick a contractor to extend the existing 30-kilometre fence without having to publish a tender.
The 82-kilometre-long, 3-metre-high extension will cost 90 million leva (53 million dollars). When completed, the fence will cover 112 of the 275-kilometre-long shared border with Turkey.
The Balkan country, which joined the EU in 2007, is under pressure to take back thousands of asylum seekers from other member countries because Bulgaria was their point of entry to the bloc.
“The construction of the fence is a message to the Near and Middle East, and Africa, that Bulgaria no more holds an open door,” said the head of the parliamentary defence committee, Micho Michov.
According to the Bulgarian interior ministry, after the first section of the fence was completed last year, the number of immigrants dropped from 11,000 in 2013 to 6,000 last year.