AUSTRIA has sent shockwaves across the EU by ramping up the rhetoric on migration and refusing to sign an international agreement - breaking ranks with European leaders.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said he was pulling out of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration pact to in a bid to “defend his country's national sovereignty”.
The pact, originally approved in 2016 by all 193 UN members, is due to be signed in Morocco in December and subject to another vote next year.
The non-binding UN pact was launched to make migration safer and addresses issues such as how to protect migrants, how to integrate them into new countries and how to return them to their homelands.
Austria, current holder of the EU’s rotating presidency, accepted one per cent of its population in asylum seekers during the 2015 migrant crisis which saw more than a million people enter Europe from the Middle East and Africa.
But Mr Kurz, who stood on a divisive anti-immigration platform before taking office last December, said: “Austria will not join the UN migration pact.
"We view some points of the migration pact very critically, such as the mixing up of seeking protection with labour migration.”
Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of Austria’s nationalist, anti-migration Freedom Party, said: “Migration is not and cannot become a human right.
“It cannot be that someone receives a right to migration because of the climate or poverty.”
The decision has enraged European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker who described the move as “unacceptable”.