Toughens border checks: Austria Border Controls

Published: August 31, 2015

Toughens border checks: Austria Border Controls, Austria has denied that it is in violation of the European Union’s open-border policy, after it tightened up controls in the face of the growing migration crisis.

Queues built up on the M1 motorway in Hungary leading to Austria, which also shares borders on its eastern side with Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic.

The measure, which was put in place late on Sunday, involves increased controls on traffic in Burgenland state which will be carried out in close collaboration with the Hungarian, Slovakian and German authorities.

The bodies of 71 refugees were discovered in Austria last week in an abandoned lorry that had travelled through Hungary.

“The main aim is to target smuggling gangs. What is happening here are controls conducted by traffic police and security forces – these are not border controls,” said police spokesman Helmut Marban.

The Austrian interior ministry said on Monday that around 200 asylum seekers had been stopped and five people traffickers arrested as part of the operation.

Konrad Kogler, director general for public security at the ministry, said: “In the hours since we started implementing these measures that we agreed with Germany, Hungary and Slovakia, we have been able to get more than 200 refugees out of such vehicles and we have been able to detain five smugglers.”

The Austrian interior minister, Johanna Mikl-Leitner, speaking at the same news conference, said the checks along the Austrian border were not classic border controls. “We are not in violation of Schengen,” she said, referring to the EU’s open-border agreement.

EU interior and justice ministers are to meet on 14 September in an effort to agree on measures to address the escalating crisis.

However, there are differences over how to respond. In an interview with French radio on Sunday morning, the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, criticised “scandalous” eastern European member states for opposing a quota system for a fairer distribution of refugees and asylum seekers across the EU.

He did not single out particular countries but went on to say Hungary’s new 110-mile razor-wire barrier, which runs the length of its border with Serbia, does “not respect Europe’s common values”.


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