Austria plans new border controls; EU plan A isn′t working - Chancellor | News | DW | 16.02.2016
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Austria plans new border controls; EU plan A isn't working - Chancellor

Chancellor Werner Faymann says border checks and possibly more fences will help deter new arrivals. Austria has already built a 4-kilometer (2.6-mile) long fence at its Spielfeld crossing with Slovenia.

The country's Social Democrat leader said it was vital to have plans in place that would allow authorities to react immediately if the number of migrants traveling through Europe increased again with the arrival of warmer weather.

"We will therefore strengthen border control efforts in a massive way," he told reporters on Tuesday, without going into details.

But his comments follow a warning by Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz last week that Austria would have to "stop the migrants at its border."

Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner was scheduled to provide further details of the new security plan later on Tuesday.

But local media reported that the proposals would affect several southern border crossings, including the Brenner mountain pass and the Arnoldstein crossing between Italy and Austria.

More fences planned

The plans are modeled on the Spielfeld border crossing between Slovenia and Austria where a processing center for migrants and a 4-kilometer long fence have been set up.

Austrian newspaper "Kurier" reported that other fences - along with other crowd control measures - were planned further west at the Karawanks Tunnel crossing, which also borders Slovenia.

The paper said security would be tightened at nine other crossings on the Italian, Slovenian and Hungarian frontiers.

EU plans criticized

Previously, Austria also announced it would halve the number of refugees allowed to stay compared to last year. That means just 37,500 asylum claims will be accepted.

"It was right to set a cap and send a message that Austria cannot keep receiving an indefinite number of refugees," Faymann said, adding that plan A - the European solution to the migrant crisis, where migrants are distributed across the bloc - was not working.

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Austrian officials have also expanded the list of safe countries of origin, which will likely see citizens of Algeria, Georgia, Ghana, Morocco, Mongolia and Tunisia turned away at the border in future.

Transit point

Austria has largely served as a corridor into neighboring Germany for the hundreds of thousands of people, many of them Syrian refugees, who have streamed onto its territory since September.

More than 90,000 people stayed and claimed asylum last year in Austria, a country with a population of 8.5 million. But as DW's Alison Langley reported, not everyone stays.

Currently the majority of refugees arrive through the Spielfeld border. On Monday alone, around 1,000 people used that route to enter the country, police said.

mm/kms (dpa, Reuters)

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