Austria to Partner with the UK on Deportation Scheme
Human Rights and Europe Researcher,
Global Human Rights Defence
Austria has signed a ‘migration and security agreement’ with the UK, in which Austria would adopt a migration strategy like the UK’s proposed Rwanda scheme. This partnership is the first of its kind in Europe, and has been signed despite the fact that the UK’s deportation scheme is postponed subject to the outcome of a supreme court ruling on its legality, which is anticipated to be in December 2023. If found to be legal, the UK has pledged that the scheme will be in operationalisation in the early months of 2024.
This agreement essentially oversees the implementation of a scheme in which asylum seekers in Austria will be deported to a country within the Global South pending the outcome of their asylum applications. If successful, asylum seekers would be allowed to return and settle in Austria, and if unsuccessful, they will be forced to return to their home countries. The difference between the two countries is that under the UK’s scheme, asylum seekers will not be granted asylum in the UK unless they can prove that deporting them to Rwanda would expose them to “serious and irreversible harm”.
This partnership comes in the face of the ongoing global migration crisis, as the UK pressures its EU counterparts to reform their international asylum policies and agreements such as the refugee convention and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Aligning with the UK, Austria has also been compelling the European Union to follow in the steps of the UK. However, with questions on the legality of these deportation schemes, with Austria having the second-highest level of discrimination experienced by respondents, the nature of this agreement raises questions regarding the nature of such policies, and whether they serve to reinforce discrimination and xenophobia.
Sources and Further Reading:
European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) (25 October 2023), “Being Black in the EU- Experiences of people of African descent”. Study, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. Retrieved on 25-10-2023, at: https://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/fra_uploads/fra-2023-being-black_in_the_eu_en.pdf
Syal, R. (2023), “Austria to work with UK on Rwanda-style plan for asylum seekers”. The Guardian. Retrieved on 04-11-2023, at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/nov/02/austria-seeks-to-adopt-uk-rwanda-style-plan-for-asylum-seekers