Why this story matters:
At the summit of interior ministers in Innsbruck, the perfectly staged appearance of Horst Seehofer from Germany (CSU), Matteo Salvini from Italy (Lega) and Herbert Kickl from Austria (FPÖ) sent a clear message: the three men wanted to set the pace.
They presented themselves as victorious negotiators, and the council meeting hadn't even begun yet.
"This was a performance without groundbreaking content -- yet another such display from our government." writes Gianluca Wallisch in his analysis of the summit.
Ultimately, the message was that there is an agreement between European countries -- at least some of them. "I'm glad about the paradigm shift," Kickl said about this German-Austrian-Italian unity. He emphasized its relevance for the "fate of the EU". The underlying objective is probably to send a clear message to smugglers and migrants: they will be entering the EU illegally.
So, as Gianluca Wallisch points out, Kickl & co didn't have much to bring to the discussion table -- they merely wanted to repeat their old arguments on a more prestigious and visible platform.
Details from the story:
- At the beginning of the summit in Innsbruck, Austrian Minister of the Interior Herbert Kickl and his German and Italian counterparts, Horst Seehofer and Matteo Salvini, declared their intention to form a "coalition of the willing" in matters of asylum policy.
- Greek EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos made it clear that he would not let himself be pressured by Kickl, Salvini and Seehofer. About Kickl's idea for camps outside the EU, Avramopoulos simply said: "The question is, which states would allow this on their territory?"
- Luxembourg Foreign and Migration Minister Jean Asselborn had clear words for Kickl's nationalistic unilateralism: members of the Council Presidency must not "entertain national initiatives" but rather do everything they can to keep Europe together, said Asselborn.
- Regarding asylum centers outside of the EU, Asselborn said: "These should not be considered by civilized Europeans."