Vienna, 30 October 2012 – “Our goal is to provide optimum support for all Austrian citizens abroad who are faced with an emergency situation and to ensure efficient consular crisis management”, State Secretary Reinhold Lopatka said in view of the discussion of more intensive EU cooperation in consular matters. A draft EU directive about consular protection abroad is currently being negotiated in Brussels.
“EU delegations play an important, supplemental role in addition to our network of diplomatic and consular representations. One thing is certain, however: it is our prime task to provide full support for all Austrians abroad, and we do not intend to outsource this priority to third parties”, Lopatka said in answer to Austrian MoEP Ulrike Lunacek in today’s “Krone” newspaper.
In 1993 EU law demanded that EU citizens facing an emergency situation in a country where their home country has no diplomatic representation must be able to rely on the full support of representations of other EU member countries.
“The crises in North Africa have shown very clearly that cooperation between the European partners works very well and that Austria has acquired a high degree of professionalism in crisis management over the past few years. Not only were we able to support our fellow Austrians but we were also able to help hundreds of citizens of other EU countries in difficulties in their efforts to leave the affected countries”, Lopatka said. The Austrian embassies in Tripoli, Tunis, Malta, Cyprus and Greece took on an important role in protecting Austrians and other European Union citizens.
“In the current discussion about closer cooperation in consular service provision at EU level, Austria advocates that the 140 EU representations fulfil the role of point of first contact in critical situations. A European regulation of closer cooperation between the representations of the member states should, however, have a clear practical added value for our own citizens; in times of budgetary discipline this must not be linked with additional costs. As long as we do not know whether the new mechanism of reimbursement of costs that was proposed by some member states yields more benefits than costs we are decidedly against it”, the State Secretary said. Austria would not accept that larger EU countries cross-finance their diplomatic representation network by asking smaller member states to pay for consular services provided to their citizens.
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