Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl voiced her government’s opposition to a report by the European Commission’s Legal Service declaring that the UN Compact ought to be legally binding for every EU member state including those which withdrew from the agreement.
The Compact describes mass migration as “inevitable, necessary and desirable”. Merkel’s government has in fact been the main architect of the Compact.
An AfD MP Petr Bystron downloaded the text from the German government’s website, and highlighted that the Federal Foreign Office has been taking credit for the Compact, claiming they had worked on the agreement as early as 2016.
Thus, given these repeated assurances from Merkel, Kneissl said she was “astonished” to learn that the new document showing the Commission had apparently reversed its previous stance that the Compact was non-binding.
On Monday, the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) minister handed a paper outlining the government’s position on the issue to Austrian EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn.
Austria has rejected the Legal Service’s conclusions on the basis that “UN General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding and you can not declare parts of them binding”.
Hahn dismissed Kneissl’s concern as a “storm in a teacup”, according to the Kronen Zeitung, He said that the position of the European Commission remained that the so-called UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was not legally binding.
But the FPÖ’s leader in the European Parliament, Harald Vilimsky, said the latest developments regarding the EU legal document has proven that his party was right to lobby for Austria’s withdrawal from the UN agreement.
As a governing coalition partner, his party acts as “a protective umbrella for Austria and defends the country’s interests,” he said, underscoring Kneissl’s statement that Austria is “against European Commission plans to bring the UN migration pact in through the back door”.
Vilimsky said: “We insist on retaining national sovereignty on the issue of asylum and migration… It cannot be the case that there is a ‘right to migration’ [brought into EU law], because that would leave Europe with unsolvable problems.”
On Monday, Kneissl’s Hungarian counterpart, Péter Szijjártó, described the Commission report as “tangible proof” that the EU was planning to make the UN compact mandatory.
At a press conference in Brussels he explained that the Legal Service had formulated “lengthy and devious” legal grounds for making the agreement legally binding.