Schengen enlargement – Austria’s veto power is causing a stir in the EU


Interior Minister Gerhard Karner (ÖVP) blocks the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen. He justified this mainly with a high number of asylum applications and was criticized, among other things, by representatives of the EU Council. Croatia, on the other hand, has been a member since 1 January.

Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner resisted the pressure and blocked the Schengen accession of Bulgaria and Romania with a veto. “It is wrong to expand a system that is not working in many places,” Karner said at the meeting of EU interior ministers in Brussels on Thursday. Austria received support from the Netherlands, which also voted against accession.

However, the way for Croatia to join the Schengen area without border controls was cleared in a separate vote.

Pressure from Germany, session very emotional
Insiders report that the session was very emotional. Germany, Luxembourg and the representatives of the EU Council in particular have tried to put pressure on Austria and get Karner to give in. “We have remained steadfast and will not deviate from our demands,” said the ÖVP management team. Austria demands that “the European external border is finally protected and the number of illegal migrants drops drastically and sustainably”.

Austria presents a five-point plan in Brussels
Austria has presented a five-point plan: Key demand is, for example, a refoulement directive that allows people who are clearly not entitled to protection to be quickly returned to their home countries. In addition, according to the Danish model, asylum procedures in safe third countries should be made possible and the protection status of criminal asylum seekers should be withdrawn more easily. The Commission will also set up and fund a pilot project for fast-track asylum procedures at the EU’s external borders.

The debate is likely to be back on the agenda in 2023
The Ministry of the Interior in Vienna expects that the accession debate on Bulgaria and Romania will be back on the agenda at the end of the next EU presidency or the start of the second EU presidency. From 1 January, Sweden will take over the presidency, followed by Spain.

Liberals welcomed Austria’s right of veto, but see the problems far from resolved. Social Democrats and Neos are critical of the Austrian blockade.

Source: Krone


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