Austria demands stronger EU border protection — RT World News
Karl Nehammer has threatened to oppose a bloc-wide statement on migration if Brussels does not fund prevention
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer has warned EU leaders he is prepared to block a statement from the European Council summit on migration this week if the bloc does not pay to fortify its external borders against illegal entries. Nehammer’s demand for concrete action on border protection came in an interview with Die Welt on Wednesday.
“empty sentences will not suffice” he said. “A clear and unequivocal commitment to strengthening the protection of the external borders and using appropriate financial resources from the EU budget is needed.” Otherwise “concrete measures” agreed, said the Chancellor, Austria cannot support the summit declaration.
Nehammer and the leaders of seven other countries called for stronger protections against illegal migration in a letter to the presidents of the European Commission and European Council on Tuesday ahead of Thursday’s migration summit. The leaders of Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Slovakia also signed the message, denouncing existing European policies and the low rate of return they generate. “pull factor” encourage offenders.
“The current asylum system is broken and mainly benefits cynical smugglers who profit from the misfortune of women, men and children,” the letter reads, calling for increased deportations and the sending of asylum seekers to “safe third countries” in addition to increasing the physical fortifications of the borders.
Last month, Nehammer asked the European Commission to pay 2 billion euros ($2.17 billion) to build a border fence between Bulgaria and Turkey. Austria prevented Bulgaria from joining the Schengen area without a visa in December, fearing the country would not be able to properly control its borders.
Last month, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proposed a “pilot project” which would allow “immediate returns” rejected asylum seekers back to their country of origin. EU immigration ministers have recommended restricting visas for countries that refuse to accept returned nationals, although The Gambia is the only country to be punished in this way since the policy was proposed for the first time.
EU countries recorded more than 330,000 illegal entry attempts last year, border control agency Frontex reported – the most since 2016 and a figure that does not include asylum seekers legal or Ukrainian refugees. More than 80% of them were adult men.