Romania retaliates after Austria vetoes country from joining Schengen Area over migrant crisis

Romania's President Klaus Iohannis speaks during a media conference at the conclusion of the symposium "The idea of Europe" in Kaunas, Lithuania, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)
By Dénes Albert
1 Min Read

Romania, angered by Austria’s decision last week to single-handedly veto the country’s accession to the border-control-free Schengen Area of the European Union, has recalled its ambassador to Vienna, Emil Hurezeanu.

Romania has also called on Romanian nationals to boycott Austrian holiday resorts during the winter ski season.

Last Thursday, only one of three Schengen hopefuls, Croatia, was admitted to the Schengen Area, which will abolish border controls with neighboring EU members Slovenia and Hungary as of Jan. 1, 2023. Bulgaria and Romania, however, were left out due to Austria’s veto, which said the two countries did not do enough to stem the latest migration wave on the Western Balkans route.

According to Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, there are 75,000 irregular migrants in Austria who have somehow managed to cross Europe's external borders and enter an internal country like Austria. According to Nehammer, more time is needed to take in the two countries that have refused to accept them.

As Remix News previously reported, Nehammer has been highly critical of EU policy on migration as his country grapples with a record-breaking wave of migrants. By August, Austria had already received more than 56,000 asylum applications, and the pace continued into September, placing massive burdens on the country's schools, social system, and housing.

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“Austria is currently heavily burdened by illegal migration. The contribution that we are making in Europe is disproportionately high. The EU’s migration policy has failed. There is still no strong protection of the European Union’s external borders, and the reality of the problem is being ignored,” the ÖVP leader said in October.

Romania, on the other hand, rejects Austria's position, according to Hungarian newspaper Mandiner.

"The regrettable and unjustified attitude of Austria (…) risks affecting European unity and cohesion, which we need so much, especially in the current geopolitical context," Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said about the decision, referring to Russia's war in Ukraine.

Although Romania maintains it did everything in order to shore up its borders in the face of mass migration, the data do not entirely support this claim. The latest Frontex report also shows a trend similar to the one mentioned by Bakondi. In the January to October period, the number of migrants along the Western Balkans route rose by 159 percent compared with the same period of 2021.

Last year, Romania's annual border police report recorded the highest-ever number of 15,390 illegal border crossings, while in 2020, the figure was 10,586. For 2022, Romanian Border Police report that illegal crossings are on pace to match or exceed 2021's numbers.

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