Sunday

11th Apr 2021

Austria drafts anti-asylum law

  • Austria is a main transit country for asylum seekers hoping to reach Germany (Photo: Alice Latta)

Austria has finalised a draft law to prevent asylum applications once an upper limit has been reached.

The government earlier this year introduced an annual 37,500 cap. The so-called emergency decree finalised on Tuesday (6 September) would prevent most people from applying for asylum once that threshold is met.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The controversial law is set for a parliament vote in about a month following a review. It is likely to pass.

The move aims to further curb asylum claims over broader fears of a repeat from last year when almost 90,000 applicants were filed in the country. Around 29,000 applications have been filed in the first seven months of this year.

Der Standard, an Austrian daily, also reported that some 2,200 soldiers could be deployed at the borders should refugees arrive en masse.

Austria's self-imposed cap was followed by a closure of the so-called Western Balkan route earlier this year. The border closures stranded more than 50,000 people in Greece.

Austria had also initiated plans to erect a barrier along the Brenner Pass with Italy over the summer but halted construction following widespread protest.

Border security and guards have since been stepped up on the Italian side of the Brenner Pass.

Austria has largely served as a transit country for people hoping to lodge asylum claims in Germany. Some 700,000 passed through last year. It is still, however, one of five main destination countries in the EU for first time applicants.

But broader concerns over asylum and immigration have underpinned striking gains by the country's far-right Freedom Party's (FPO).

FPO's Norbert Hofer is leading polls ahead of a presidential run-off on 2 October.

Austria's tough asylum law follows similar measures proposed in Hungary and Denmark.

Some 10,000 Hungarian police and soldiers patrol long stretches of razor-wire fencing along the border with Serbia.

The troops escort asylum seeker caught within 8km of the fence back to the Serbian side of the 175km border following a law passed by the Hungarian government in July.

In late August, Hungary's government had also announced it would erect a second fence on the Serb border alongside the existing one.

Denmark in late August had also floated a plan to grant police the powers to turn back asylum seekers at its borders, if deemed necessary.

Some 21,000 people had applied for asylum in Denmark in 2015. Those figures have since dropped sharply. Around 4,700 have registered this year so far.

In January, the Danish government had also passed a law that would allow authorities to confiscate valuables from arriving asylum seekers and refugees.

Balkan leaders pledge to keep out migrants

Balkan leaders said in New York there would be no repetition of last year's mass influx of refugees, as the EU prepares to launch a new border force to keep people out.

News in Brief

  1. Turkey blames EU for sexist protocol fiasco
  2. France to close elite civil-service academy
  3. Covid-19 cases in UK drop 60%, study finds
  4. White House urges 'calm' after Northern Ireland riots
  5. Italy's Draghi calls Turkey's Erdoğan a 'dictator'
  6. Slovakia told to return Sputnik V amid quality row
  7. EU risks €87bn in stranded fossil fuel assets
  8. Obligatory vaccination not against human rights, European court says

Analysis

Frontex scrutiny on rights violations is a PR stunt

Greece denies any illegal pushbacks at sea. The EU takes their version of events as face value, in a system unable and unwilling to shed doubt on Greek authorities - posing accountability questions on the EU's border guard agency Frontex.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. The Covid bell tolls for eastern Europe's populists
  2. Four deaths after taking Russian Sputnik V vaccine
  3. Post-Brexit riots flare up in Northern Ireland
  4. Advice on AstraZeneca varies across EU, amid blood clot fears
  5. Greenland election could see halt to rare-earth mining
  6. After 50 years, where do Roma rights stand now?
  7. Why Iran desperately wants a new nuclear deal
  8. Does new EU-ACP deal really 'decolonise' aid?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us