EU executive to recommend suspending third of migrant relocation to Austria

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 10, 2016 5:15 AM

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission will recommend on Wednesday to suspend a third of the relocations of migrants to Austria as requested last year by Vienna, which has already taken measures to cut the number of people it receives, two officials told Reuters.

More than a million migrants and refugees arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean last year and the U.N. Refugee Agency says some 74,000 landed in Greece and Italy in 2016 in what has become a politically highly sensitive crisis.

The 28-nation bloc agreed to relocate people from Greece and Italy, which are struggling under the influx, to share the burden more evenly between other EU countries.

But the system has all but failed to kick off with only around 500 people actually relocated.

The European Commission's move on Wednesday would be a recognition of that, as well as an attempt to keep Vienna on board for a pan-European approach to the crisis, rather than have countries implementing their measures unilaterally.

Vienna, which originally adopted the same "open-door" policy for refugees as Germany, recently said it wants to speed up deportations. It strengthened border controls and introduced an annual ceiling on the number of migrants it would receive as it seeks to reduce overall immigration.

Vienna said it's cap on refugees should be a "wake-up call" for Brussels.

(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska and Tom Koerkemeier)