Austria is looking into implementing a similar agreement to Rwanda’s for deporting asylum seekers to a third country. They have reached a deal to collaborate with the UK on migration.
Suella Braverman and Gerhard Karner, the respective representatives of the United Kingdom and Austria, signed a joint agreement focused on migration and security collaboration.
This is the initial European Union member state to enter into an agreement with the United Kingdom, whose £140 million plan to deport individuals from Rwanda is currently suspended until a supreme court ruling determines its legality.
The offshoring plan in Austria would have a different approach compared to the UK’s, as individuals sent to a third country would have the opportunity to come back to Austria if their asylum requests were approved. Those who were denied would be sent back to their countries of origin.
According to the proposed Rwanda plan in the UK, individuals would be sent back to the central African country with a one-way ticket in order to seek asylum. However, they may be exempt if they can prove that it would put them in danger of “severe and permanent harm”.
Rishi Sunak and the home secretary are urging European allies to revise international asylum agreements, specifically the refugee convention and European convention on human rights (ECHR), due to the current global migration crisis.
In December, the supreme court is anticipated to make a decision on the UK’s Rwanda policy’s legality. The Home Office aims to begin deportation flights in February if the ruling is in their favor.
If it is deemed illegal due to the possibility of asylum seekers being sent back to their home country without respect for their human rights, Sunak may face strong demands from numerous Conservative MPs, including at least eight cabinet members, to withdraw from the ECHR.
Austria is advocating for the adoption of a system similar to Rwanda’s in the EU, as a response to the increase in immigration from the Mediterranean and eastern borders.
Austria’s minister of interior, Karner, stated that the UK has extensive expertise in handling asylum requests outside of Europe in the future. This was a crucial topic discussed in my meeting with the home secretary in Vienna, as Austria can gain from this knowledge.
“We are committed to consistently working towards the EU Commission’s progress and facilitation of these procedures beyond Europe.”
According to Braverman, the current migration crisis is the biggest issue of our time. Europe, including the UK, is experiencing a significant influx of individuals crossing borders without proper documentation, which is creating a heavy strain on our communities and public resources.
“Austria is a close ally in tackling illegal migration, and we have already begun sharing knowledge of our actions and strategies such as third country removals. This joint statement is a commitment to work more closely together to achieve our aims, and enhance our cooperation on a wide range of security challenges.”
Denmark is the only other country that has previously drawn up plans to deport asylum seekers to third countries but its proposals have been on hold.