EU Leaders Hold Refugee Summit In Vienna
At The Western Balkans Summit In Vienna, Angela Merkel Called For Rejected Asylum Seekers To Be Returned To Their Countries Of OriginOctober 10th, 2016
The Western Balkans Summit was dominated by a discussion concerning the refugee crisis in Europe. A main focus of discussion was the urgent need to establish a coherent refugee policy, triggered by a recent tragedy close to Vienna where up to 50 refugees were found dead in a truck along a highway. It was this tragedy that showed the need for a solution to the major migrant crisis.
The summit in Vienna was attended by eleven European Union member states, including nine countries in the Balkans. Before the summit, EU members had already decided in February to close the Balkan refugee routes. However, many refugees still find detours or accumulate at the Greek border.
During discussions, German Chancellor Angela Merkel shared her lasting belief that Europe can cope with the refugee crisis and find common solutions. She stressed that it is paramount to stop illegal migration, and suggested that to achieve this, asylum seekers whose refugee applications have been denied should be sent back to their home countries.
The EU’s deal with Turkey about the management of migrants coming from North Africa and the Middle East was one of the main goals agreed on during the summit. Another goal agreed upon included providing extra staff for the EU border force agency, Frontex.
In recent times, there has been a shift in migration routes to Europe. While Germany is still to process over a million incoming migrants in 2016, the number that travel through the Balkans has decreased after Austria urged countries to close their borders to asylum seekers. The result of this closure was a shifted migration route from the Aegean Sea to the central Mediterranean.
Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said there was no choice but to find "a European solution to this crisis." If not, he said, individual European countries would act on their own and "endanger our European idea of open borders."