In a meeting held for the first time in more than 10 years, the Federal Chancellor of the Republic of Germany, Olaf Scholz, has told Austria’s Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer that internal border controls between the two countries are “indispensable” due to migration pressure.
He has also justified the internal border controls that Austria keeps in place with the other countries.
“But at the moment, given the figures that we all know, it is indispensable, just as Austria, for its part, has to carry out checks elsewhere,” he said, adding that Switzerland also carries out border patrols at the border with Germany.
Throughout the discussion, the Austrian Chancellor Nehammer brought up the high number of asylum applications that his country received in 2022, approximately 112,000.
He also said that while currently the trend is falling in Austria, the number of asylum applicants in Germany is on the rise, reiterating his claims that the current Schengen system does not work.
“As long as the current Schengen system doesn’t work… joint efforts are needed in Europe to strengthen external border protection. We will therefore stand by Germany when it comes to pushing ahead with the Commission’s measures,” the Chancellor said, as both counterparts agreed that more needs to be done in order to return to their countries of origin those who do not have the right to stay in the Schengen Area.
Both countries have had internal controls at some of their borders for years now. While Germany has in place border controls with Austria, the latter, on the other hand, has border controls in place at the land borders with Hungary and Slovenia. Both countries cite the increase in irregular migration from Türkiye through the Western Balkans, and human smuggling as the main reasons why these checks are in place.
While they agreed on one matter, the Chancellors did not agree on another. Austria’s main man once again noted that his country remains firm in its opposition to the Schengen expansion with Bulgaria and Romania.
Chancellor Scholz, on the other hand, told journalists that Germany is pro the expansion of the European Union, which according to him, means that the EU Member States should join the Schengen Zone.
“As regards Bulgaria and Romania more specifically, we are ready to agree. As we know, others still have questions. But the German position on this issue is clear,” the Chancellor said.
For a long time now, Germany has called for the approval of Schengen membership for Bulgaria and Romania, insisting that both countries meet all criteria to do so. On the other hand, Austria rejects the request as, according to them, the existing Schengen members should fix the existing issues with irregular migration before further expanding.
In a recent exchange of emails, the Austrian Ministry of Interior has told SchengenVisaInfo.com that as long as external border protection clearly does not work and migration pressure remains high, there’s no point in expanding the Schengen Zone.