A significant 86 per cent of Austrians surveyed in a snap poll on Sunday night support their country continuing independent action to deal with the migrant crisis, without the guidance or agreement of the European Union (EU).
Austria was on the main migratory corridor from the Near East and North Africa to Europe, sitting at the top of the so called ‘Balkans route’ until action by nations like Hungary and Macedonia closed access to the peninsula by illegal incursions.
Despite having spent much of 2015 being highly critical of efforts to close the route, Austria’s government under Chancellor Werner Faymann is now taking a much harder line, and this is proving extremely popular with voters, reports Kronen Zeitung.
A snap poll taken after a Sunday night television appearance by the Chancellor, in which he again called on his German counterpart Angela Merkel to change course on her migrant strategy, found broad agreement with the new direction of travel for the country. With the statement “Austria should continue to set their own migrant policy as long as there is no solution at EU level”, 86 per cent agreed, with 62 per cent agreeing strongly.
Although the question left the possibility of Austria falling into line with the EU at a later date should a continent-wide approach to the migrant crisis be agreed on, to the respondents this seemed a remote possibility. Some 83 per cent said they couldn’t see any sort of agreement between the EU-28 “in the next few weeks”.
A similar proportion also believed Austria should be unafraid to make decisions independently of the EU. Asked “is it right to enforce the Balkan closure along with other states”, 85 per cent agreed, with just six per cent disagreeing strongly.
The transformation of Austria’s Chancellor Faymann from a Merkel-esque advocate of unlimited asylum for all comers into an advocate of border control and fences was as unexpected as it was sudden. Austrian media now characterises him as a “Frenemy” to the German chancellor, describing his conversion to “plan B” as an “emancipation”.
Explaining this transformation, Chancellor Faymann has spoken of “plan B” as “self defence” for Austria, and insisted Austria could not become the “waiting room” of Germany.
His reticence to play ball with the Euro club of leaders in Brussels while working out ad hoc solutions with neighbours may prove unpopular in Brussels. As Breitbart London reported, Swedish leader Stephen Löfven slammed European countries not accepting migrant quotas as “beneath contempt”.
Calling for a pan-European solution and discouraging exactly the action Austria, Hungary, and others have taken, Mr. Löfven said:
“The important thing now in such a difficult situation is that we do things together in the EU. If all keep on with their own unplanned solutions we’ll make it even worse”.
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