Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer is pushing for joint EU funding of a fence at the Bulgaria-Turkey border ahead of the Swedish EU council presidency, as migration remains a hot topic in the bloc.
Ahead of a key local election in Lower Austria in early 2023, migration continues to be high on the Austrian agenda. Bolstered by the upcoming Swedish EU Presidency, which has made “a review of the migration and asylum system” a priority, Nehammer continues to set the groundwork in Brussels.
“If over 75,000 migrants pass uncontrolled through EU states, this is a massive security risk for the entire EU,” the Austrian chancellor said ahead of a regular EU leaders’ meeting in Brussels.
“We must support Romania and Bulgaria in external border management and take concrete measures. Austria is campaigning for this at today’s European Council,” he added.
According to the Austrian government, it is time to break the “fence taboo” by erecting a €2 billion fence, a Sofia price estimate, at the border between Bulgaria and Turkey. “Fences themselves are nothing new,” he added, pointing to the Greek-Turkish border fence.
Austria had vetoed the recent Schengen, the EU’s borderless area, accession of Romania and Bulgaria, citing migration flows. “Austria is disproportionately burdened with asylum applications and irregular migration in the EU,” Nehammer stressed again.
His EU push was harshly criticised at home. “The simple cry of ‘build walls around Europe’ from landlocked Austria contributes more to the polemic in the debate than to the solution,” highlighted Sigi Maurer, the party chief of the Greens, Nehammer’s coalition partner.
Source : Euractiv