March 2. 2024. 3:14

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Spain, Austria to push for EU consensus on migration, asylum before 2024

Austria and Spain will seek consensus at the EU level to ensure the European Pact on Migration and Asylum is approved before next year’s European Parliament elections, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer pledged in Vienna on Thursday.

Currently, on a tour of fifteen EU capitals to present Madrid’s agenda for when it takes over the EU Council presidency in the s second half of the year, Sánchez made his first stop in Vienna Thursday, where he met with Nehammer to discuss key EU issues, including the “hot topic” of migration.

Madrid intends to meet the planned timetable to try to achieve an agreement on the Pact on Migration and Asylum before the European Parliament elections in May 2024, Sánchez announced in a joint press conference on Thursday.

“Spain is going to work hard to achieve this”, he said while thanking Nehammer for the cooperation and Austria’s “constructive” position in order to reach a common agreement on this sensitive EU file in order to reach a common agreement at the EU level.

Austria and Spain share many points of view, but on other EU policies, “we still have much work to do,” Sánchez added.

Yet, Spain and Austria have different views on migration. Madrid, for example, rejects Vienna’s proposal to build fences financed with EU funds on the EU’s external borders.

On irregular migration, Spain, which is on the EU’s external border, can share its experience on irregular migration and on how to protect borders, said Nehammer, who recently reiterated Austria’s wish to curb irregular migration.

Countries such as Spain, Italy, Bulgaria and Romania need the support of the rest of the EU to contain irregular migration flows, Nehammer added. While borders must be protected, it is important to reach agreements with the countries of origin of migration to stabilise them and “give them prospects” of a better future, he said.

Nehammer also indicated that Spain can support Austria in the process of EU enlargement towards the Western Balkans, as this is an “especially important” region for Austria, the chancellor emphasised.

He also acknowledged that Spain had helped Vienna at the EU level in granting candidate status to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

(Antonio Sánchez Solís and José Miguel Blanco | EFE)