EU migration system ‘has been broken for years’ – Austria

Chancellor Karl Nehammer has called for urgent action as the bloc sees a sharp uptick in the number of asylum seekers

The EU must urgently fix its dysfunctional asylum system to prevent another iteration of the 2015 migration crisis that could potentially lead to the collapse of the entire bloc, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said in an interview published on Saturday.

Speaking to Welt am Sonntag, Nehammer railed against the current EU regulations, claiming that the bloc’s “asylum system has been broken for years” and calling for immediate action. He admitted that while European policymakers have finally got “more sense of reality” and had started discussing migration, “the road is far from over.” 

According to the chancellor, migration is among the serious issues that need to be addressed at the European level, “as irregular migration can be an issue that can divide and possibly even destroy the European Union.” 

To solve the problem, Nehammer proposed a list of changes, including the creation of effective border protection, rapid asylum procedures both at the EU’s external borders and in third countries, and concluding agreements with other nations allowing for the rapid deportation of migrants.

He also strongly opposed an initiative supported by Germany and the EU Parliament that would exempt women with children from these suggested practices, branding it “impractical and ultimately counterproductive.” According to Nehammer, such an exemption would result in women and children being sent off by their relatives “on the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean and helplessly handed over to unscrupulous traffickers.” 

“Such a derogation would be practically an invitation for women with children to risk illegal migration to Europe – and, if protection is granted, to bring the entire family to join them,” Nehammer told the German newspaper.

The bloc saw a sharp increase in asylum applications between June 2022 and May 2023, according to EU data. The number is approaching the record levels of the 2015 crisis, when some 1.3 million migrants sought refuge in the EU. In 2022 alone, the number of asylum applications in the bloc hit almost one million, with the most people coming from Syria, Afghanistan, and Türkiye.

Furthermore, the bloc’s social welfare system remains under severe pressure from refugees who fled to the EU from Ukraine.

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