19th Oct 2021

Bavarian politician calls for checks on Austria-Germany border

  • Seehofer is one of Merkel's uncomfortable allies (Photo: Jens Volle/ Campact)

Bavarian leader Horst Seehofer has said Germany should introduce border checks to block refugees coming from Italy.

"Italy is in clear violation of the Schengen [border-free area] accords. If this doesn't stop, Germany has to seriously consider stopping this violation via border controls," he told the mass-selling tabloid, Bild, on Monday (8 September).

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"We have to make sure that refugees are divided justly in Europe," he added.

Seehofer, who is governor of the south-east German region of Bavaria, said most refugees coming by train arrive from Italy via Austria. He said under EU rules, refugees need to apply for asylum in the first EU country in which they set foot.

"We must set quotas for refugees in Europe. And we have to deal with the fact that refugees need to be shared out among EU members fairly," he said.

According to Spiegel Online, Seehofer's Christian-Social Union (CSU) has drafted a seven-point plan demanding a temporary suspension of the Schengen accords at the Austrian border in order to stop African migrants who cross the Mediterranean to Italy and then travel on.

The plan, which is to be adopted next Monday in a CSU party meeting, also says the federal government should boost the number of staff dealing with migration and asylum and make shelters for refugees out of unused army barracks.

The Bavarian Conservatives - the sister party to chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling CDU party - also want a special EU commissioner dealing with refugees to be part of the new team lead by Jean-Claude Juncker.

Under EU rules, border checks can be temporarily reintroduced in extraordinary cases, when public safety or national security is threatened.

A temporary reintroduction of snap checks at the French-Italian border in 2011 for the same reasons - an increase in refugees - was deemed legal by the EU commission.

But the EU executive said at the time the "spirit of the Schengen rules has not been fully respected".

Bavaria is often the origin of Germany's more conservative policies.

Seehofer also recently pushed for rules to tighten access to welfare by non-German EU citizens.


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