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    Migrants heading to Germany during a snow shower at the German-Austrian border near Wegscheid, Germany, Saturday Nov. 21, 2015

    Blow to Schengen as Austria Refuses to Re-Open German Border

    © AP Photo / Armin Weigel/dpa
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    Austria remains in favor of border controls and an upper limit on refugees, Interior Minister Wolfgang Subotka told German newspaper Die Welt.

    Having imposed controls at its border with Germany in September 2015 at the height of Europe's migrant crisis, Austria wants to continue with them indefinitely, Interior Minister Wolfgang Subotka told German newspaper Die Welt on Friday.

    "As long as the EU is not able to protect its external borders, we will take national measures in Austria. It is essential to know who is coming to our country, for reasons of domestic security. I am under no circumstances willing to take risks here," Subotka said.

    In October the EU Commission had authorized an extension of border controls between Germany, Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Norway until mid-February 2017. 

    Austria says that a return to Schengen is only possible if the bloc is able to come to an EU-wide solution on migration and border protection.

    "I think a return to Schengen would only be possible with an all-European solution to the border protection issue, but I do not see this happening before February, especially because such a solution will take some time to implement."

    "It's not only Austria that thinks it's necessary to keep border controls beyond February," the minister added.

    "A lot of my European colleagues are in agreement with our view of the situation and we will naturally try to reach a unified agreement."

    Refugee camp in Austria (File)
    © AFP 2019 / GUENTER SCHIFFMANN
    Austria received 100,000 asylum applications in 2015, when it had a population of 8.6 million. Last year Vienna imposed an annual cap of 37,500 on the number of asylum seekers arriving in the country, and planned to take a maximum 127,500 between 2016 and 2019.

    Subotka also said that his government will continue to impose a limit on asylum seekers, a policy which is opposed by the German government but supported by several EU countries such as Poland and Slovakia.

    "I believe that it is unavoidable that we set a legal ceiling as part of a realistic and responsible migration policy. We must have the courage to call things as they are: protection for those who need help, but also rejection of those who come for economic reasons and have no prospect (of getting asylum)," Subotka. 

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    Schengen agreement, border, migrants, refugees, Germany, EU, Austria
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