Austria Wish to Copy the UK’s Rwanda Plan

Rishi Sunak and Karl Nehammer Photo: Alex Hammond /

Austria has announced that it will campaign for a change in asylum policy across the European Union. As EU leaders increasingly appear to disagree on immigration issues, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer suggests that the EU should follow the UK’s approach – Sky News reports.

Chancellor Karl Nehammer met with his British counterpart, Rishi Sunak, in Vienna on Tuesday. The two leaders praised their growing partnership in security, counterterrorism, and tackling illegal migration. Working with safe third countries, such as the UK’s Rwanda model, can help protect Europe from illegal migration and prevent dangerous journeys.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stated that thinking “outside the box” was critical to implementing more robust frameworks for dealing with migration, and they agreed that stronger action was required to end the vile people smuggling trade. The United Kingdom’s plan to send migrants without legal immigration papers to Rwanda and have them apply for asylum there, was recently passed into law after a series of legal challenges.

Nehammer praised the UK plan, claiming that 15 EU member states were now in favor of taking this approach, which he described as a “pioneering” step.

“The United Kingdom is thus paving the way for this path, which will also be important for the European Union,” said Nehammer, pointing out that sending irregular migrants to Africa would help destroy people smugglers’ business models.

Nehammer also stated that Austria and the United Kingdom remain “strategic partners when it comes to being able to conduct asylum proceedings in safe third countries.”

A Letter to Brussels

As we wrote earlier, a joint letter by 15 EU members issued on 15 May, is addressed to the high-ranking officials in the European Commission. Besides Denmark, it is endorsed by Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Romania and Finland, reflecting a cross-party consensus. The four-page statement pitches ideas and proposals deliberately designed to partially shift tasks from national authorities to neighbouring countries. Although the letter emphasizes that the newly accepted Pact on Migration and Asylum “will equip EU Member States with a stronger legal framework for managing the various aspects of migration”, it also states that for full success (breaking down the driving factors and the influx of illegal migration), further steps are necessary.

These steps include partnerships with key partner countries along the migratory routes (and agreements with them in keeping with the already existing cooperation with Tunisia and Turkiye) and the establishment and enhancement of the Emergency Transit Mechanisms, including saving migrants in distress off the high seas and transporting them to partnering countries outside the European Union.


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