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Austria: Less EU money for member states refusing refugees

March 8, 2017

Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern has called for increased pressure on countries shirking their responsibility in the redistribution of refugees. "Solidarity is not a one-way street," the Social Democrat said of the EU.

Flüchtlinge an der Grenze zwischen Österreich und Slowenien
Image: Reuters/L. Foeger

Ahead of an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday, Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern called for increased pressure on countries in the 28-member bloc that continue to fail to take in refugees.

"In future, the money from the EU budget must be distributed more equally among the member countries," Kern told German daily "Die Welt."

"If countries continue to duck away from resolving the issue of migration, or tax dumping at the expense of their neighbors, they will no longer be able to receive net payments of billions from Brussels," Kern said in the article published on Wednesday, arguing that "solidarity is not a one-way street."

On issues such as economic development, security interests or sanctions against Russia, some EU countries expect solidarity from other member states, Kern said, "but on other important issues they do not want to know anything about solidarity."

"Selective solidarity should in the future also lead to selective payability among the net payers," the Social Democrat (SPÖ) leader said.

EU members shirking responsibility

In net terms, Austria accounted for some 851 million euros ($898 million) of contributions to the European Union in 2015. Other net contributors were Germany (14.3 billion euros), the UK (11.5 billion euros) and France (5.5 billion euros).

Several Eastern European countries, on the other hand, receive more money from the EU than they contribute. The largest net recipient is Poland with 9.5 billion euros, followed by the Czech Republic (5.7 billion), Romania (5.2 billion) and Hungary (4.6 billion).

At the same time, some of the same countries have also so far refused to help in the redistribution of a total of 98,000 refugees by September this year.

So far only 13,500 refugees have been redistributed within the EU area. Poland which, by now, should have taken in 6,182 aslyum seekers, has not yet received a single person, while the Czech Republic, which was due to accept 2,679 refugees has so far accepted a total of 12 people.

Austria for a strong Europe

Speaking to "Die Welt" Kern emphasized that he did not want to threaten any of his 27 fellow EU member states but merely wanted to point out connections.

"Germany or Austria will struggle to transfer billions to the EU budget if nothing's done about wage and social dumping, and a fair distribution of refugees to all EU countries is deemed impossible," he said.

Insisting that his country has an interest in a strong Europe, Kern said: "If Europe is weak, it will also weaken Austria."