The Austrian chancellor has dialled down his previous ambitions and after a tour of Paris, Madrid, Berlin and Rome last week aims to at least achieve a consensus regarding the protection of the European Union’s external borders, Magyar Idők writes.
This is in line with the Commission’s proposal to widen the mandate of the European Border and Coast Agency Frontex that will be outlined by EC President Jean-Claude Juncker. The commission wishes to boost the headcount of the agency and have it take over some of the member states’ competences – as proposed by Angela Merkel.
Before the summit, Kurz gave evasive answers regarding the potential curtailing of national rights. But some member states are not only afraid to lose part of their defense competences but also the right to expel asylum-seekers. According to the European press, Italy, Greece and Spain are likely to bring up the latter issue.
These countries are afraid that should the changes in the Frontex mandate result in an application of the Dublin rules, they may be stuck with asylum-seekers registered by European officials.
There is even more scepticism regarding the Union’s idea of “controlled centers” for migrants (previously named hotspots). The idea was brought up in June, but no member state has come forward in support of it. And the fact that Italy has stopped refugee boats from docking means Italy was actively boycotting the idea.
But there is some hope with regard to establishing refugee centers in other countries after a recent visit to Egypt of Kurz and European Council President Donald Tusk. They praised the Egyptian migration model (Egypt has practically seen no immigration since 2016) and Egypt also gave partial approval for refugee centers to be set up there, a plan it previously opposed on constitutional grounds.
Brexit remains the most critical issue, and solving it may require an extraordinary summit around November time. In his letter to the participants at the Salzburg summit Tusk wrote:
” Let me recall that limiting the damage caused by Brexit is our shared interest. Unfortunately, a no deal scenario is still quite possible. But if we all act responsibly, we can avoid a catastrophe”