Austria pushes for more restrictive EU border protection

Austria is calling for a more rigid European border control system to reduce the number of migrants arriving in the bloc amid the ongoing migrant crisis at the Belarus border. Together with Greece, Poland and Lithuania, Austria is initiating a border protection conference in Vilnius to give its push more political weight.

“We want to form alliances of reason,” said Interior Minister Gerhard Karner.

“The member states should focus on the migration issue on those topics on which there is agreement,” he added, emphasising that the EU should focus on establishing a regime of robust external border protection and fast repatriation of irregular migrants.

His Lithuanian counterpart, Agne Bilotaite, added that the current migrant crisis shows that “non-democratic states” can weaponise the control of “migrant streams”.

The four like-minded states invite all EU countries to Friday’s conference and representatives of the European Commission, the European Parliament, Europol and the EU border-control agency Frontex.

The Austrian call for a “coalition of reason” comes only one day after Karner stressed its strong opposition to the more migrant-friendly asylum approach of the new German government. Last week, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser called for a “coalition of welcoming states” to kick off the further development of the EU asylum system.

“I speak out firmly against such efforts,” Karner told German newspaper Bild.

Austria has long criticised the EU’s approach to migration and has continuously called for stricter migration rules.

(Oliver Noyan |


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