Europe quietly seeks Australia's help stopping migrants

Pro-refugee protesters in Brisbane (AAP)
Pro-refugee protesters in Brisbane (AAP)

At least six European countries and the European Union have discreetly asked Australian officials for advice on how to stop the flood of refugees arriving by boat.

Despite the EU publicly rejecting Australia's stance on refugees in the past, it has been revealed that behind the scenes they've been seeking advice on how to stop asylum seekers.

Australia sent Border Force staff to Warsaw, the capital of Poland, in November to discuss border issues with their EU counterparts, reports News Corp Australia.

Other countries spoken to are believed to include the United Kingdom and Austria.

"A number of European nations and the European Union have sought advice from the Australian Government on Operation Sovereign Borders," a spokesperson for Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said.

"The minister has personally had discussions with several of his European counterparts. It would not be appropriate to disclose discussions with other governments.

"Australia is willing to share its experiences, but it is for individual governments and regions to determine what they believe is the most effective course of action."

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott urged Europe to adopt Australian-style policies, such as forcing migrant boats to turn back. The EU rejected his suggestions, saying they breached international law.

"We have no intention of changing this, so of course the Australian model can never be a model for us," EU migration spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said in 2015.

Despite its tough stance on undocumented migrants and asylum seekers arriving unannounced by boat, Australia takes in around 20,000 refugees every year, relatively high on a per capita basis.