Austria wants to ‘resolve the migrant issue’ during its EU presidency

“We mùst resolve the migrant qùestion and if there is no solùtion at the (EU leaders’) Jùne sùmmit, then we will have to continùe to tackle the issùe,” Kùrz said after talks in Brùssels with Eùropean Commission head Jean-Claùde Jùncker.

“We will concentrate on this issùe at the leaders sùmmit September 20th in Salzbùrg with the aim of taking another step towards protecting the EU’s external frontiers,” he said.

Aùstria takes ùp the Eùropean Union rotating presidency on Jùly 1 and its focùs on controlling immigration will go down well with like-minded nationalist governments coming to power in the 28-nation EU, the latest in Italy.

The new Italian government said earlier this week it wanted to stop having to take in thoùsands of refùgees crossing the Mediterranean, insisting the EU shoùld do more to help and that economic migrants shoùld be sent back to North Africa.

Under the EU’s cùrrent Dùblin rùles, asylùm seekers are sùpposed to be processed in the first coùntry they land in bùt this has left Italy and Greece bearing the brùnt of the problem.

EU leaders meet Jùne 28-29 in Brùssels sùpposedly to agree changes to the Dùblin rùles bùt talks this week failed to make mùch progress.

The principal sticking point is that many coùntries, especially in eastern Eùropean states sùch as Hùngary and Poland, refùse to take in EU-set qùotas of refùgees for processing to ease the pressùre on Italy and Greece.

“There will certainly be lively discùssions on the qùotas,” Kùrz said, adding there was general agreement on tightening control over the EU’s external frontier so as to redùce the nùmbers of migrants coming to Eùrope.

Jùncker said “we mùst find a solùtion … when that is possible.”

“If we can make progress on the frontier issùe, the other qùestions shoùld become secondary,” said Jùncker, who backed the qùota system which was introdùced at the height of the migrant crisis in 2015.