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Germany and Austria step up joint border checks

June 1, 2018

German and Austrian authorities have boosted security measures at their joint border. They say the move aims to counter criminality and illegal migration.

Police standing at border on motorway
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Hoppe

Germany and Austria on Friday began tightening security at their joint border still further with measures including three-member police patrols and increased scrutiny of freight trains.

The increased controls, which are to be reviewed after three months, will involve both German and Austrian federal police and police from the German state of Bavaria, which borders directly on Austria and has experienced large influxes of migrants via its southern neighbor in recent years.

Read moreShaming the EU into leading on refugees 

Preventing accidents

The measures will particularly focus on goods trains, according to the spokesman of federal police headquarters in the Bavarian capital, Munich.

"We want to stop dangerous illegal entries on goods trains early on and prevent accidents," Thomas Borowik said as the new measures got underway. He said migrants often put their lives at risk by traveling between or on truck trailers that are being transported by rail.

In 2017, some 1,000 migrants were discovered traveling on goods trains in the area within the purview of the Munich federal police.

Read moreAustria's Sebastian Kurz wants to use EU border guards in Africa 

Long exception

Bavaria's interior minister, Joachim Herrmann, said in May that heightened border security measures were also necessary for the fight against criminality and terrorism.

In the Schengen Area to which most EU countries belong, including Germany and Austria, border checks are meant to be imposed only in exceptional cases and on a temporary basis. 

Germany however reintroduced spot checks at its border to Austria in September 2015 amid a surge in the number of migrants and refugees seeking to enter the country. Although the measures were to have expired on May 12, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer announced in April that he wanted an extension.

Austria, France, Denmark, Sweden and Norway are among the other Schengen countries to have imposed temporary border controls.

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tj/rt (dpa, AFP)

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