Austria blasts the EU over its “failed” asylum system

Austria’s interior minister Karl Nehammer has slammed the EU’s asylum system as he announced 400 troops would be sent to the border with Hungary to deal with rising numbers of migrants bursting through.

Much like the onslaught Britain faces in the Channel – last week saw 2020’s record tally of 8,400 migrants eclipsed with more than five months to go before the year is out – Austria is facing similar problems.

15,768 migrants have crossed over into Austria already this year. Throughout the whole of 2020, the number was just 21,700.

“We get no support from the EU Commission,” blasted Nehammer of the Austrian People’s Party, accusing the EU executive of preferring to “debate relocation quotas” than act.

Austria is currently tackling waves of unauthorised immigration from Afghanistan and wants to see an effective response from Brussels.

“In Austria, we have one of the biggest Afghan communities in the whole of Europe,” complained the interior minister. “It cannot be the case that Austria and Germany are solving the Afghanistan problem for the EU.”

Migrants typically make it to Austria by passing through the slim border separating Serbia from Hungary and then the slightly larger stretch of land between Hungary and Austria. The border is defended, just not enough, hence Nehammer’s 40% rise in troop numbers.

Smugglers are understood to constantly scope out the frontier for weaknesses. Meanwhile, the EU’s array of schemes, international deals and Frontex agents have done nothing to stem the influx.

Nehammer suggested the EU replicates its Turkey deal with other troublesome countries leaking migrants bound for Europe. And while he acknowledged this would be costly, he also insisted Eurocrats act tough for once.

To illustrate his point, Nehammer used the example of Lithuania which faces mass migrant incursions, described as an “attack” by an influential MP of the Baltic nation recently.

Nehammer scolded Brussels for financing reception centres in Lithuania rather than financing “border security measures in the form of a border fence”.

“That is the completely wrong signal,” he fumed.

EU policies at its borders (or lack of them) amount to failure, in Nehammer’s mind. “The European asylum system has failed. We need to ensure that the welfare state does not collapse,” he said.

The EU itself acknowledges the bloc must brace itself for a wave of migrants from Afghanistan following the withdrawal of coalition forces.

“The post-US Afghanistan poses severe challenges with regards to migration as we expect an increasing number of people attempting to flee from Taliban,” an EU diplomat told Euractiv.