Austria threatens to block EU summit declaration on migration

  • 2023-02-08
  • LETA/DPA/TBT Staff

BRUSSELS - Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said in an interview with German daily Die Welt he is ready to block the final declaration of a European Union leaders' meeting later this week if no concrete agreements are reached on tackling irregular migration.

Empty words will not suffice, he said in the interview published on Wednesday.

He called for a "clear and unequivocal commitment" to strengthen the protection of the EU's external border and the use of EU funds for that purpose.

In January Nehammer demanded EUR 2 billion (USD 2.17 billion) from the EU budget to be used for the expansion of a border fence between Bulgaria and Turkey.

The effectiveness of border fences in reducing the number of irregular migrants entering the EU and whether to fund their construction with EU money is seen as controversial, the DPA news agency writes.

In October 2021, 12 EU countries including Austria, Poland, Hungary and the Baltic States, demanded the European Commission finance the construction of physical barriers from the EU budget.

The commission and some other EU countries, including Germany, reject the idea.

Ahead of the EU summit starting on Thursday, Austria and seven other countries sent a letter to the presidents of the European Commission and the European Council to exert pressure for higher hurdles in immigration.

The letter from Nehammer and the heads of government of Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Greece and Slovakia states that the current asylum system is broken and primarily benefits smugglers.