Wednesday

26th Sep 2018

Migrants head to Switzerland amid Austria border crackdown

  • Frontex says Switzerland is turning into a transit country for irregular migrants (Photo: Thomas Woodtli)

Switzerland is turning into a transit country for migrants heading north as EU states impose internal border checks to stem their flows, according to Frontex, the EU border and coast guard agency.

African migrants arriving in Italy from Libya are avoiding Austria and are instead entering Switzerland in the hope of reaching northern EU states, Frontex said in a report on Wednesday (15 February).

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

  • People caught the Brenner Pass are turned back to Italy (Photo: Alice Latta)

"The number of African illegal stayers who primarily entered the EU through the Central Mediterranean route significantly decreased in Austria, while at the same time grew in Switzerland," said Frontex.

Fewer people are also entering Germany from Austria. At the same time, more detections have since been made at the Swiss border.

Austria imposed additional checks at its border with Italy last summer and threatened to close the frontier at the Brenner Pass, a major gateway. People caught at the border are turned back to Italy.

The move appears to have diverted the flow elsewhere as people seek alternative routes in an effort to get to their final destinations further north.

France noted a 156 percent detection increase in 2016 compared with the previous year. The French also noted a large spike in people now attempting to enter through Spain and Portugal.

Data kept from public

Frontex said the reinstatement of controls at internal borders had simply "led to a diversification in routes and modi operandi."

Austria, Denmark, Germany, Sweden and non-EU member state Norway have all introduced temporary border controls. The data that justifies those checks is not being shared with the public.

The issue has riled some MEPs who are demanding that the European Commission or the EU Council, representing member states, release the information.

"How can we assess whether or not these controls are needed if we do not have that information?" centre-right Portuguese MEP Carlos Coelho asked the EU Commission in a discussion on Schengen last month.

"How many controls are then in these countries, how many illegal immigrants did we stop, what time type of controls are being done, targeted, what is the economic impact of these controls?" he said.

Western Balkans to Italy

A large number people who managed to travel through the Western Balkans and enter Hungary have also headed towards Italy.

Italy last year reported some 10,000 detections from people who had already been fingerprinted in Hungary. The vast majority were from Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Frontex said the figures "clearly point to a smaller branch of the Western Balkans route leading to Italy".

Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate

Issues of sovereignty remain entrenched following a proposal by the European Commission to expand the EU's border and coast guard, also known as Frontex, to 10,000. But EU leaders maintain a "basic consensus" of support had been reached.

EU promotes 'Egypt model' to reduce migrant numbers

EU council president Donald Tusk wants to discuss deepening relations with authoritarian Egypt, as a model of migrant reduction, with EU heads of state and government at a meeting in Salzburg, Austria on Wednesday.

Analysis

EU to shore up borders, returns and migrant detentions

The European Commission wants more border controls, detentions and returns for rejected asylum seekers. The harsh tone is part of a broader anti-migrant mood. "We are treated like rats," one asylum seeker stuck on a Greek island told this website.

News in Brief

  1. UN chief: World suffering from 'trust deficit disorder'
  2. Stalemate in Sweden as parliament ousts prime minister
  3. Migrant rescue ship heading to French port
  4. EU angry at British tabloids on Brexit
  5. UK to allow EU flights in no-deal Brexit
  6. Greek reporters arrested after story on 'mishandled' EU funds
  7. Austrian minister urges police to out foreign sex offenders
  8. ECB's Draghi set to clarify role in secretive G30 group

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. EU court delivers transparency blow on MEP expenses
  2. Russian with Malta passport in money-laundering probe
  3. Cyprus: Russia's EU weak link?
  4. Missing signature gaffe for Azerbaijan gas pipeline
  5. Every major city in Europe is getting warmer
  6. No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected
  7. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  8. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us