LONDON: European countries are exploring offshoring asylum applications in a bid to stem the flow of migrants into the continent.
Migration to Europe has increased 53 percent over the past 12 months, and over 1 million people are expected to claim asylum in EU countries this year. Syrians and Afghans constitute the highest number of applications.
The EU’s Agency for Asylum said 519,000 applications were made in the first half of 2023, and “historically, the volume of applications tends to be higher in the second half of the year.”
The UK has tried to establish a scheme to deport asylum-seekers to Rwanda while their applications are processed, to ease the strain on resources in Britain and to act as a deterrent to those with bogus claims.
Earlier this year, a deal was signed between the EU and Tunisia, in which Brussels pledged over €1 billion ($1.073 billion) to help stop the flow of people from the North African country across the Mediterranean.
Last week, Austria backed calls for a Rwanda-style scheme for EU members, with immigration a key electoral issue in Poland, Germany and the Netherlands later this year.
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer told Die Welt newspaper: “Austria will continue to do its utmost in the EU to create the political and legal conditions for asylum procedures to be carried out already, outside the EU. We will not give in.
“Corresponding agreements with third countries are possible, as the example of Rwanda shows.”
Nehammer also praised the “groundbreaking” deal signed in July between the EU and Tunisia.