Tuesday

20th Aug 2019

Austria says won't close border, still plans small fence

  • Migrants at the Spielfeld border-crossing point between Austria and Slovenia. Austria is "at its limits," president Fischer said. (Photo: Michael Gubi)

Austria tried on Wednesday (28 October) to alleviate concerns over its plan to erect a fence on its border with Slovenia, the first such plan between two Schengen countries.

In a phone call in the afternoon, Austrian chancellor Werner Fayman and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker agreed that "fences have no place in Europe," the Commission said.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"There is no fence with Hungary and no fence with Slovenia," Fayman said later on Austria's ORF TV channel.

"Whoever believes he will solve the issue of refugees with fences is getting it wrong," he added.

On Tuesday, his interior minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner said Austria would take "special building measures" to reinforce its border with Slovenia, where 3,000 to 8,000 migrants arrive each day.

On Wednesday, she repeated that "of course it is also about a fence", although it will not be "a fence all around Austria".

She said that the process of drawing up plans for technical barriers next to Spielfeld border-crossing point would take ten days.

"A barrier also has a door," she added.

In Brussels, an EU source said on Wednesday that the plans were for a reinforcement of the border to better manage and control the massive influx of people, not for a closing of the border.

"I would not dramatise" the issue, the source said.

On a visit to Kosovo's capital Pristina, Austrian president Heinz Fischer warned that his country was "at the limits of its capacities".

The arrival of tens of thousands of people "create massive organisational and logistical problems," he said, adding that Europe will have "to better control its external borders" and fairly share the burden.

In Slovenia, prime minister Miro Cerrar convened his national security council. He said that Slovenia was ready to use "all possible means" to face the situation, suggesting he could close the country's border with Croatia in the event that Austria closed its border with Slovenia.

Meanwhile, the influx of migrants from Austria to Germany continues.

5,000 people crossed the border in Passau, Bavaria on Wednesday, German police said during the night.

"Our Austrian colleagues are as overwhelmed as us," a police spokesman said.

On Tuesday, Bavaria's prime minister Horst Seehofer had threatened to close the border if Austria did not stop migrants from entering Germany.

Analysis

Orban 'vindicated' by EU refugee crisis

Hungary's Viktor Orban feels vindicated by a shift to the right in EU migration politics, but more populism and razor-wire fences could pose "a challenge" for the Union.

Feature

EU asked to solve migrant rescue deadlock

No EU country willing to open its ports for the Spanish rescue ship Open Arms, with France and others turning to the European Commission for help.

EU targets Hungary for denying food to migrants

At least 25 people stuck in Hungary's transit zones along the Serb border have been denied food, with one case lasting eight days. On Thursday, the European Commission threatened the risks of sanctions against Hungary over the issue.

EU court: Denmark's family-reunification law 'unjustified'

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg has delivered a blow to Denmark's strict family-reunification laws. The ruling will likely cause headaches for its new left-leaning government given its stance on immigration, and opens up 8,000 pending cases.

EU guilty of Libya migrant 'tragedy', ICC lawsuit says

EU states' efforts to "deter" migrants from Libya have helped kill more than 14,000 people and exposed 40,000 others to "crimes against humanity", according to a lawsuit filed in The Hague on Monday.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. EU ends silence on Hong Kong protests
  2. Is Salvini closing just harbours or also the rule of law?
  3. No-deal Brexit would seriously harm UK, leaked paper says
  4. Selmayr did not keep formal records of lobby meetings
  5. EU asked to solve migrant rescue deadlock
  6. Internal EU paper: Second Brexit vote was no longer 'distant dream'
  7. EU has 'zero incentive' to break open 'trilogue' deals
  8. Denmark plans import ban on EU-approved pesticide

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us