June 21. 2024. 5:28

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Austrian chancellor calls for EU solution to irregular migration

The European Union should adopt effective measures to fight irregular migration, said Chancellor Karl Nehammer following calls with Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, ahead of the two-day European Council summit starting Thursday.

In talks with von der Leyen and Meloni, Nehammer discussed irregular migration and the strengthening of external border protection.

“The talks in the run-up to the EU summit are valuable to discuss common positions and also to explain situations of concern,” Nehammer said, APA reported.

“My counterpart Giorgia Meloni and I have much in common here, albeit with different preconditions. What we have in common is that we want to take joint and united action against illegal migration and that it is high time for a European solution,” he added.

Recently, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson and EU Returns Coordinator Mari Juritsch outlined a strategy to increase migrant returns and make them more effective amid a spike in asylum requests.

The pragmatic approach mentioned by the Commission in recent days would now be needed to “take effective measures in the fight against illegal migration”, Nehammer said, assuming that it would also lead to concrete decisions at the European Council.

Nehammer has been working on an alliance within the EU to push the Commission into a harder line on border protection, visiting the Turkish-Bulgarian border together with Interior Minister Gerhard Karner in January.

During his visit, Nehammer sharply criticised Brussels for refusing to help Bulgaria protect its border with €2 billion in funding.

In December, Austria and the Netherlands blocked Bulgaria and Romania from joining the visa-free Schengen zone, with Austria fearing that Bulgaria would be unable to control its borders with Turkey, despite heavy criticism from EU partners like Germany.

(Chiara Swaton | EURACTIV.de)