Austria Stresses Need in Fight Against Illegal Migration Despite Rejection of Higher EU Budget

PeoplePoliticians ♦ Published: June 28, 2023; 23:51 ♦ (Vindobona)

Dealing with irregular migration, increasing the EU budget as well as foreign and economic policy considerations were the focus of the Parliament's EU Main Committee today. Austria's Chancellor Karl Nehammer reiterated his opposition to a higher EU budget, but at the same time stressed the great need for funding in the fight against illegal migration.

As migration policy will be an important issue for the Austrian elections in 2024, the parties and the government are already in commotion in the context of the EU budget and the fight against illegal migration. / Picture: ©

At the meeting of the EU Main Committee, Nehammer commented on issues such as external border management, procedural centers, and repatriation agreements. He stressed that investing in these areas would be a better use of money than other spending. Nehammer made his comments ahead of the EU summit, which will focus on Ukraine, illegal migration, and security and defense policy.

During the debate, several MEPs voiced their concerns about Nehammer's opposition to the EU Commission's desired increase in the EU budget. The Commission had recently asked member states to contribute an additional roughly 66 billion euros to the multi-year financial framework until 2027.

Regarding the EU budget dispute, Petra Steger of the FPÖ parliamentary group expressed a "clear no" to higher payments to the EU. She argued that Austria had already paid enough and that the EU already had the highest budget ever at 1.1 trillion euros. In particular, she criticized the support for Ukraine and questioned whether this support would also be used for weapons, which would contradict Austria's neutrality. According to Steger, 50 billion euros of the 66 billion euros in additional payments would be used for this purpose.

Nikolaus Scherak of NEOS asked whether Chancellor Nehammer's announcement that he did not want to pay "a single cent" extra was a negotiating tactic. Scherak thought that in principle it made sense not to blindly comply with the demands of the EU Commission.

Eva Maria Holzleitner of the SPÖ called it a "wrong step" to merely restructure the EU budget given "important projects" from which Austria would also benefit. She warned of the negative effects of this decision.

Jakob Schwarz of the Green Party also saw it as counterproductive that Austria was "putting on the brakes" given major challenges such as the war in Ukraine. He stressed that it had never been so obvious as now that the EU needed additional funds.

Maria Theresia Niss of the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) stressed that the main issue was where the additional funds should come from. She called on Chancellor Nehammer to name the potential for redeployment. Nehammer pointed to potential savings in the administration and mentioned various funds that had not yet been fully utilized and were financed with tax money from the member states.

Austrian Parliament