The EU Parliament has agreed to the admission of the countries, there is no change, said the ÖVP MEP Lukas Mandl on Tuesday in Strasbourg. But “a wake-up call” is needed for speed and improvements in asylum and migration policy. “We don’t want Schengen to be called into question,” said SPÖ MEP Theresa Muigg.
SPÖ delegation head Andreas Schieder said that Interior Minister Gerhard Karner’s (ÖVP) criticism of Schengen “had come to nothing” in the case of Croatia. With Bulgaria, “there are a few questions,” says Schieder, but he still supports Sofia’s entry into the Schengen area. Muigg warned against playing populist issues off against each other.
MEPs called for a decision on the EU Commission’s asylum and migration package. Mandl described this as a good basis for discussion. What is still missing are solidarity and the crediting of previous payments for refugee admission and cooperation with third countries in resettlement. Mandl sharply criticized the position of the European Parliament, which was decided by a majority, of wanting to grant all refugees and Ukrainians temporary protection status. This would be unrealistic and also send the wrong signal to the smugglers.
Clear rules for asylum
Schieder complained that Austria was one of the countries that blocked the EU Commission’s migration proposals and would now criticize the EU authority. Mandl said clear rules are needed for asylum, irregular migration and legal immigration. Europe must arm itself, it should in particular raise concerns that Serbia is granting visa-free travel to citizens of countries that do not recognize Kosovo, thereby triggering migratory pressure. This is “part of hybrid warfare”. Muigg pleaded for a uniform European asylum procedure, where an attempt is made to separate more and less promising applications from the start.
The Burgenland ÖVP leader and MEP Christian Sagartz defended his impetus for the discussion about the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Proposing “an update” on asylum and migration issues, he said. One must discuss a difference between human and civil rights, such as whether automatic access to cutting-edge medicine must be guaranteed.
Harald Vilimsky, head of the FPÖ delegation, sharply criticized the Schengen system. “Schengen is not the right concept for the current time,” he said. The EU’s external border is not sufficiently protected. Therefore, states should have the right to protect their borders. Migration is stronger today than in 2015.
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