Austria to back out from the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration

  • Martin Macq
  • 7.11.2018 06:57

On the 31st of October, Austria’s government announced its decision not to join the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration aiming to ensure protection and assistance to migrants regardless of their legal status. This pact could potentially bring more legitimacy to illegal migration, Vienna said.

The US took the lead and decided to back out from the pact even before its approval last July as the Trump administration said it could threaten US sovereignty and be at odds with US immigration policy. The decision made by Austria can also be explained by concerns about national sovereignty, along with the fear that the UN pact could create migration influx similar to the one in 2015 when the country welcomed nearly 1% of its population in asylum seekers. On the one hand, chancellor Sebastian Kurz is meeting the promises he made to Austrians when elected in 2017 to prevent any repeat of mass migration to the country. On the other hand, he is causing further division within the EU on the sensitive issue of migration. The Austrian chancellor is clearly prioritising his domestic agenda over the EU one, which is certainly an unusual move from a country assuming the rotating presidency of the EU, which should promote unity between the 28 member states. This division could be even more exacerbated as Hungary also decided not to join the UN pact and Poland is considering no to sign it next December. If Czech Republic and Slovakia decide to act like their V4 partners, it would surely further undermine the image of the V4 countries in Brussels, especially regarding the burden-sharing issue.

Austria’s ambition to counterbalance Brussels’ decision-making process on migration will need support and the V4 could embody it. The Central European Defence Cooperation (CEDC) forum could thus be an ideal structure to discuss a common migration policy outside of the EU framework.

About author: Martin Macq

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