EU interior ministers meet as nations tussle over migrant response
INNSBRUCK, Austria: Interior ministers from 28 European nations are holding talks on Thursday as they face pressure to introduce new policies to stem migrant arrivals, in their first meeting since Austria took the EU helm with promises of a tough response to the issue.
The meeting in the Austrian city of Innsbruck will focus on finding a common migration plan, with Vienna expected to push to change current EU policy so it is no longer possible to make asylum requests on European soil.
Although the number of migrants fleeing war and poverty has fallen sharply since a 2015 peak, the thorny issue remains a key topic for the six-month presidency of Austria, where a conservative-far right coalition took power last December.
Austria’s far-right Interior Minister Herbert Kickl on Thursday repeated his suggestion of creating “return centres” outside the EU for people refused asylum who cannot be immediately repatriated to their country of origin.
However, EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos voiced scepticism over the practicalities of the idea.
Lithuania Interior Minister Eimutis Misiunas (L) and Italian Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini (C) take part in a round of discussions during an informal meeting on Thursday in Innsbruck, Austria.