Austrian far-right minister doubles down on asylum reform plans

Austrian Minister of the Interior Herbert Kickl speaks during a news conference on 9 March 2018. [Zsolt Szigetvary/EPA/EFE]

Austria’s hardline interior minister Herbert Kickl said yesterday (10 July) he would push to change the EU’s migration policy to make it impossible to make asylum requests on European soil.

“That would be a proposal,” the minister of the far-right FPÖ party told journalists in Vienna.

Any other solution, he argued, “would encourage traffickers to say: ‘I take your money to bring you to the European Union because you are guaranteed the right to make a request for asylum, with a very, very weak probability of being sent back’.”

Austria currently holds the rotating EU presidency, which gives it the opportunity to chair meetings and set agendas as the bloc continues to struggle to agree on a common migration policy.

In the Austrian proposal, asylum requests would be made in refugee camps outside Europe to “a sort of mobile commission,” Kickl said.

Only exiles from countries that directly border the European Union would be able to make their asylum requests on EU territory.

The issue of migration and asylum rights in Europe has raised tensions among the 28 member states and will be on the agenda of a meeting of EU interior ministers on Thursday in Innsbruck.

In the short term, Kickl hopes to propose to his colleagues the establishment of “return centres” in willing countries outside the EU, for people refused asylum who could not be immediately repatriated to their country of origin.

The proposed changes to asylum rules have been developed in a draft document of the Austrian presidency dated earlier this month, which has been published in the press in recent days.

Right of asylum: Austria’s unsettling proposals to member states

According to an article by French daily Le Monde, Austria, which currently holds the  six-month rotating presidency of the EU, sent troubling proposals to EU member states to reform the right of asylum. EURACTIV.fr reports.

The draft claims that among asylum seekers, “a lot of them are particularly drawn to ideologies that are hostile to freedom or which are prone to violence”.

It proposes to grant asylum only to “those who respect the values of the EU and its rights and fundamental liberties”.

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