Austria has vowed to “fight against illegal immigration by securing external borders” during its presidency of the Council of the European Union, according to the country's presidency website.
“The aim is to work more closely with third countries in order to ensure effective return policies and to provide assistance to those in need of protection before they enter the EU while, on the other hand, preventing those not in need of protection from setting off on the dangerous crossing to Europe," the presidency said.
Vienna took over the rotating presidency from Bulgaria in a ceremony held in Austria’s town of Schladming on Saturday.
Austria assumed the presidency for the third time after its terms in 1998 and 2006.
“During its presidency, Austria intends to take on the role of bridge builder in Europe and reduce the tensions that have recently arisen,” Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said at the ceremony.
“It is important for us to strengthen trust in the EU and ensure that the European Union can perform its big tasks,” Kurz added.
Under the motto “A Europe that protects”, the Austrian government is also expected to work on “securing competitiveness through digitalization and supporting the continued efforts of the Western Balkan countries to move closer to the EU.”
The government will deal with these issues at their informal summit to be held in Salzburg on Sept. 20 2018, according to a program released on the website of the Austrian presidency.
The presidency of the Council rotates among the EU member states every six months. After Austria, Romania is expected to take over the presidency in the first half of 2019.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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