18th Mar 2018

EU upset by Austria's asylum 'provocation'

  • Faymann: "Austria cannot be accused of not showing solidarity" (Photo:

Austria's chancellor, Werner Faymann, could be in the hot seat Thursday evening (18 February) when EU leaders discuss migration issues over dinner at their summit in Brussels.

On Wednesday, Faymann's government announced it would cap the daily number of asylum applications to 80 and would let in a maximum of 3,200 migrants each day, under the condition that they go to seek asylum in another country.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

“I don’t like that decision,” European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said on Thursday.

"Patience with Austria is running out," a top official said.

EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said the decision was unlawful and urged Vienna "to reconsider the unilateral measures which you are proposing".

In a letter to Austrian interior minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner, seen by EUobserver, Avramopulos said that Austria's decision was "incompatible with Austria's obligations under European and international law", including article 18 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

“Austria has a legal obligation to accept any asylum application that is made on its territory or at its border,” the commissioner wrote.

In the letter, Avramopoulos also notes that Faymann's decision to wave migrants on to other countries, mainly Germany, is contrary to the migration policies the commission, with the support of Germany, has been trying to pursue in recent months. 

In October, at a meeting in the commission's headquarters, leaders from countries on the so-called Western Balkan route commited to stop pushing migrants on to neighbours.

The commission has also been repeating that migrants should apply for asylum in the country of first arrival and should not be allowed to choose their destination.

"These measures are a provocation," a second senior EU official told EUobserver.

"Austria announced them on the eve of the summit and they will enter into force on the second day of the summit," the official noted, adding, however, that they did not come as a surprise.

'Closest ally, until now'

Austria's move is also bad news for German chancellor Angela Merkel, who is still calling for a European solution to the migrant crisis and has warned against further border closures in the Balkans.

"We are not happy," a German source told EUobserver. "We are against nationalist solutions".

"Austria has been Germany's closest ally, until now," the second EU official said, suggesting that this could change if Austrian went on in this direction.

Merkel was spotted having a long talk with Faymann before the EU summit's traditional 'family' photograph of all member state leaders.

Arriving at the summit, Faymann said that the EU was "very far" from a common solution and that it would be "unthinkable" to expect that Austria find a solution for the whole EU.

"Austria cannot be accused of not showing solidarity after it took 90,000 refugees in the previous year," he told reporters, adding he would not budge on the new measures.

"Legal opinions will be answered by lawyers. Politically I say: we'll stick to it," he said.

Austria imposes asylum cap to 'shake up' Europe

Austria to place cap on number of asylum claims it will process. German president, same day, said it may be “morally and politically” necessary to limit numbers.

Greek PM threatens to block EU decisions

Alexis Tsipras threatens to block EU decisions if Greece is left to deal with the migration crisis alone, warning that he will not let Greece be turned into a "warehouse of souls".

EU billions had 'limited' effect in Turkey, audit finds

The EU got "limited" effect for the €9bn it spent trying to modernise Turkey in recent years, auditors have said. Turkey has been "backsliding" on reforms since 2013 due to "lack of political will", the European Court of Auditors found.

News in Brief

  1. Sweden emerges as possible US-North Korean summit host
  2. Google accused of paying academics backing its policies
  3. New interior minister: 'Islam doesn't belong to Germany'
  4. Hamburg 'dieselgate' driver wins case to get new VW car
  5. Slovak deputy PM asked to form new government
  6. US, Germany, France condemn 'assault on UK sovereignty'
  7. MEPs accept Amsterdam as seat for EU medicines agency
  8. Auditors: EU farm 'simplification' made subsidies more complex

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceConmtroversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  2. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  5. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  6. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  7. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  8. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  9. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?
  10. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  11. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  12. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework

Latest News

  1. Brexit and trade will top This WEEK
  2. Dutch MPs in plan to shut EU website on Russian propaganda
  3. Four years on – but we will not forget illegally-occupied Crimea
  4. Evacuated women from Libya arrive newly-pregnant
  5. Merkel in Paris for eurozone reform talks
  6. Commission rejects ombudsman criticism over Barroso case
  7. Western allies back UK amid Russian media blitz
  8. Meet the European Parliament's twittersphere