European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker praised the Austrian government and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz during the latter’s visit to Brussels along with Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache ahead of Austrian taking over the rotating presidency of the EU Council of Ministers.
Despite their vastly different political backgrounds, Juncker and Kurz both agree that securing the EU’s external borders is a priority issue, with latter underlining that Frontex – the European Border and Coast Guard Agency – is a starting point where all sides can agree when discussing a future migration agenda.
“Regarding migration, we need to find a solution. As to when that will be possible, I don’t know,” said Juncker. “We will talk about it at the end of June summit…But for me, the protection of (Europe’s) external borders is a priority that takes precedence over other issues.”
Austria as a go-between
Juncker noted that he and Kurz spoke about a number of topics including the Western Balkans, the EU budget, refugee issues, social affairs, and relations with Russia. On migration policy, Kurz suggested that the EU should adopt a new policy that does not include mandatory quotas for accepting refugees and suggested that there are a “plethora of other options” but was than definitive about a proposal to set up a rejected asylum seeker refugee camp in a country on the European continent, but outside the European Union.
“That’s a question that has to be discussed as part of a national initiative and is not connected to the Council presidency. We suggested a long time ago that it would make sense to offer protection outside of the European Union, where migrants get protection where it is necessary but do not have the opportunity to pick the best system in Europe,” Kurz said.