Austria has decided to extend border controls with Hungary and Slovenia for another six months, until May 2024.
Announcing the news, the Austrian Ministry of Interior said that the decision to extend the border controls with these two countries has been taken in order to combat terrorism and human trafficking across borders.
In addition, the Ministry notes that the checks will also continue to remain in force at border checkpoints with Czechia and Slovakia, with intensified investigation in areas near other borders as well.
The Minister of Interior of Austria, Gerhard Karner, emphasised the significance of the extension of these measures, stating that border controls are vital tools in the fight against human trafficking and asylum abuse.
He further said that in the current scenario, the measures are equally crucial in combating terrorism and, at the same time, stressed that the measures need to remain in force until the protection of external borders improves, and the Schengen system is reinforced.
Border controls are an important tool for the police to consistently combat human trafficking and asylum abuse. In the current situation, the controls are also an important measure to combat terrorism. As long as the protection of the external borders does not work and the Schengen system is broken, this measure will be necessary. – Minister Karner
As the Ministry explains, Austria has successfully maintained border controls with Hungary and Slovenia since 2015. Notably, the efforts of the country have yielded positive results, with a 50 per cent reduction in apprehensions in 2023.
Moreover, over the course of this year, the Austrian authorities arrested around 600 people smugglers. Such a high number of people smugglers arrested underscores the effectiveness of the measures in safeguarding national security and combating cross-border crime.
Apart from prolonging its border controls with Hungary and Slovenia, Austria has also recently extended the measures with Slovakia.
With the aim of combating human trafficking and irregular migration, Austria said that it will keep internal border controls with Slovakia in place until November 2023. However, once the measure ends, the authorities may decide to extend for an additional period now that the checks with Hungary and Slovenia will remain effective until May 2024.
Austria is not alone in implementing internal border controls within the Schengen Area. Currently, apart from Austria, another ten out of the 27 Schengen Member States, including France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Italy, Slovakia, Czechia, Slovenia, and Poland, conduct such controls.
Just recently, Slovenia extended its internal border controls with Croatia and Hungary until November 19.
Other countries such as Slovakia, Czechia, Poland, Italy, and Germany have also extended their existing border controls.