Sunday

18th Nov 2018

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"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.

News in Brief

  1. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  2. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  3. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down
  4. Former German chancellor labelled 'enemy' of Ukraine
  5. French lead opposition to Brexit deal on fisheries
  6. Private accounts of Danske Bank employees investigated
  7. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  8. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  2. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  3. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  4. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  5. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  6. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  7. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  8. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us