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EC rejects Austrian request for exemption from refugee relocation program

Staff Writer |
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker rejected Austria's request to be exempted from taking in refugees as part of an European Union migrants relocation program.

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Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern last week confirmed he would be writing to the Commission, claiming that via illegal immigration his country has already taken in a significant number of refugees.

Under the terms of the relocation program agreed upon in 2015, Austria is obligated to take in about 1,900 refugees from Italy and Greece by September.

Austria Press Agency reported the response from Juncker was made in a letter, where he noted that Austria is legally obligated to hold to the agreement.

He further stated he is "personally expecting Austria to fulfill these obligations."

Juncker said he is aware that Austria has in the past two years been "one of the most important representatives and supporters of a comprehensive European migration policy," though the nature of the situation has changed, including that Austria now has fewer asylum applications.

As such the burden on countries such as Greece and Italy must be relieved, he added.

"Relocation is an expression of solidarity and a just distribution of responsibility. For this the active contribution of all member states is necessary," he wrote.

Kern last week already acknowledged the appeal would be tough to see through, while other cabinet ministers also expressed their doubts.

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