Austria has threatened Hungary with legal action if the Central European country does not start abiding by EU refugee laws. Budapest remains unmoved though. EURACTIV Germany reports.
The alpine republic’s Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka told Austrian radio yesterday (7 September) that countries that consistently flout the EU’s rules on refugees and migrants should expect to face “legal consequences”.
“In that case, the republic (Austria) will sue,” Sobotka warned. He did not indicate what judicial channels would be used.
The minister reiterated that the EU is responsible for securing the bloc’s external borders and ensuring member states implement the Dublin Regulation, the principle which is that refugees must make an asylum application in the country where they first enter the EU.
Hungary continues to refute claims that it is not at fault and refuses to take responsibility for what it sees are the sins of its neighbours, Germany and Austria. A government spokesperson said that Hungary would not pay through the nose because of other countries neglecting their duties. A large majority of refugees did not enter the EU through Hungary.
Austria moved to reduce the number of refugees entering the country by putting a cap on the number of asylum procedures earlier this year. Just 37,500 applications can be looked at in 2016 as a result. Sobotka indicated that he is confident this upper limit will be respected, by saying “if the current trend continues, we have a good chance”.
Since the so-called Western Balkan route was shut back in February, fewer and fewer refugees have arrived in Austria.
Vienna’s hand has been forced in recent months due to the rise of the right-wing Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), whose presidential candidate, Norbert Hofer, is due to participate in a re-run of the election early next month.
On the same day as that election, 2 October, Hungary will hold a referendum on whether the country should be included in the EU’s mandatory refugee quotas. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who was awarded the ‘Man of the Year’ award at a Polish economic forum today (8 September), has long pursued an anti-immigration policy line, butting heads with other EU leaders on the issue and authorising border fences on its frontiers with Serbia,and Croatia