Wednesday

13th Dec 2017

Austria criticises Germany on migrants, piles 'pressure' on EU

Austria has said Germany should stop sending mixed messages on migration at a meeting with Western Balkan states in Vienna on Wednesday (24 February).

"Germany has to decide what signals Germany wants to send," Austrian interior minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner told press after talks with her counterparts from Western Balkan countries, where most migrants cross on their way from Greece to Germany.

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.

"Currently they [Germany] are sending the following signals: that they are allowing Greece to agree to the open-door policy, and on the other hand they are demanding that Austria stop all those who want to travel to Germany," she said, according to the Reuters news agency.

"One must choose one of those strategies," she said.

“We have to reduce the influx now. This is a question of survival for the EU,” she added.

"There is still no European solution in sight. For that reason it is necessary for us to take national measures," Austrian foreign minister Sebastian Kurz said earlier in the day.

Neither Germany, which accepted over 1 million migrants last year, nor Greece, their main entry point into Europe, were invited to the meeting.

The Vienna talks were criticised by both countries.

But leaders in the states on the Balkan migration route called for the need to step up border restrictions in the absence of a common European solution.

Mikl-Leitner noted that part of the reason for the Vienna event was also to generate “pressure” for a joint European approach.

“A partnership with Balkan countries is not only in the interest of these countries but also of the EU. We want to generate pressure and urgency," she was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

Foreign and interior ministers from Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia were present in Vienna.

In their joint statement, the countries said that migration on the Western Balkan route needed to be reduced substantially because they were overwhelmed.

In a nod to international law, they highlighted the need to protect those who are in genuine need of asylum.

But they said that refugees should be settled closest to their home countries and should not be allowed to chose their destination within Europe.

They also said that accommodating migrants should be a shared European burden.

They mentioned as an example that Slovakia is helping Austria by accommodating 500 asylum seekers.

The initiative comes despite the fact Slovakia has filed a court challenge against a mandatory EU plan to relocate 120,000 people across Europe.

In a dig at Greece, the Vienna statement also stressed the need to "get back to a situation where all members of the Schengen area apply fully the Schengen Borders Code and refuse entry at external borders to third country nationals who do not satisfy the entry conditions or who have not made an asylum application despite having had the opportunity".

The Schengen area is the EU’s passport-free travel zone.

Vienna signatories also urged for more communication efforts in the home countries of economic migrants to dissuade them from leaving.

The Vienna event came shortly before EU justice and home affairs ministers meet in Brussels on Thursday.

The meeting will also be preceded by a ministerial breakfast between Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia and Greece.

Their discussion will feed into the meeting of the 28 ministers later in the day.

Austria has been criticised for breaking ranks with common EU policies by imposing a unilateral cap on asylum applications.

But some EU diplomats are quietly sympathetic to its plight.

"What Austria is doing is common sense, the so far agreed European solutions don't work. Patience and capacity has run out," an EU source said.

EU upset by Austria's asylum 'provocation'

The decision to cap the number of asylum seekers and wave them on to neighbouring countries is a blow to Germany and has been deemed unlawful by the EU Commission.

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".

Merkel stands her ground on migration

The German chancellor Sunday ruled out closing German borders. She also vowed to help Greece and to fight for a European solution to the refugee crisis.

Feature

Lebanon crisis overshadows EU aid for Syrian refugees

Lebanon hosts over one million Syrian refugees, and has received some €1bn in EU funds. Caught in a geo-political tug of war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Lebanon's domestic politics have cast a longer shadow over its Syrian 'guests'.

EU complicit in Libyan torture, says Amnesty

The EU and its members states have signed up to 'Faustian pact' with Libyan authorities in the their effort to prevent migrant and refugee boat departures towards Italy, says Amnesty International.

News in Brief

  1. EU bank delays gas pipeline decision
  2. Hungary's leftwing parties join Jobbik in anti-Orban protest
  3. Barnier: EU will not accept UK backtracking on Brexit deal
  4. Puigdemont to return to Catalonia if elected
  5. Commission approves EasyJet partial takeover of Air Berlin
  6. EU medical command centre due next year
  7. Auditors: EU 'green' farm payments fail ecology criteria
  8. Austria gas explosion creates Italian energy 'emergency'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  2. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  3. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  5. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  6. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  7. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  8. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  9. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties
  10. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  11. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe
  12. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage

Latest News

  1. Last chance for Poland to return property to its rightful owners
  2. Commission attacks Tusk on 'anti-European' migrant plan
  3. Volkswagen tells EU: we will fail on our recall promise
  4. EU will not start Brexit future talks before March
  5. Bitcoin risky but 'limited phenomenon', says EU
  6. Panama Papers - start of sensible revolution in EU tax affairs?
  7. Lebanon crisis overshadows EU aid for Syrian refugees
  8. New Polish PM brings same old government

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Centre Maurits CoppietersCelebrating Diversity, Citizenship and the European Project With Fundació Josep Irla
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceUnderstanding the Social Consequences of Obesity
  3. Union for the MediterraneanMediterranean Countries Commit to Strengthening Women's Role in Region
  4. Bio-Based IndustriesRegistration for BBI JU Stakeholder Forum about to close. Last chance to register!
  5. European Heart NetworkThe Time Is Ripe for Simplified Front-Of-Pack Nutrition Labelling
  6. Counter BalanceNew EU External Investment Plan Risks Sidelining Development Objectives
  7. EU2017EEEAS Calls for Eastern Partnership Countries to Enter EU Market Through Estonia
  8. Dialogue PlatformThe Turkey I No Longer Know
  9. World Vision7 Million Children at Risk in the DRC: Donor Meeting to Focus on Saving More Lives
  10. EPSU-Eurelectric-IndustriAllElectricity European Social Partners Stand up for Just Energy Transition
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaSignature of CEPA Marks a Fresh Start for EU-Armenia Relations
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Ministers Pledge to Work More Closely at Nordic and EU Level