VIENNA (Sputnik) — In order to effectively fight illegal migration, member states of Europe's visa-free Schengen Area need to prolong enhanced border controls beyond the current deadlines, Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said on Thursday.
Austria, alongside France, Germany, Denmark and Norway, the latter of which is not an EU member but belongs to Europe's visa-free area, proposed to the European Union that it amend the existing Schengen Borders Code to allow for an extension of enhanced border controls for a period from six months to two years. The five countries have imposed temporary security checks due to a high influx of undocumented migrants in 2015. In May 2017, the European Commission recommended that Germany, Austria, Denmark and Sweden lift enhanced border controls within six months.
"To end illegal migration and avoid illegal border crossings we need to adapt the cut-off dates of the internal border controls to real challenges," Sobotka said.
The minister added that the main motivation for enhanced border controls is the threat of terrorism.
"The recent terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Turku show that the issues of migrations, integration and extremism are closely connected," the minister added.
In August, a van hit pedestrians in Barcelona, killing over a dozen people and leaving more than 130 injured. The next day, a knife attack followed in Finland’s Turku, where two people were killed and eight injured. Daesh (a terrorist organization banned in many countries) has reportedly claimed the responsibility for the attack in Catalonia.
According to the International Organization for Migration, almost 134,000 migrants and refugees have already arrived in Europe in 2017, compared to a total of some 388,000 the previous year.