The Slovenian Foreign Ministry has taken aim at Austria’s plans to extend border checks between the countries, saying it failed to prove the existence of a new security threat.
Austria notified the European Commission, the European Parliament and member states in October of its decision to extend controls on the border with Slovenia by another six months until May 2023. The country reintroduced border checks as a temporary measure during the 2015 migration crisis.
As reasons for the latest extension, Austria listed increased migration flows, including as a result of visa policies of Western Balkan countries, increased secondary migration due to the situation on the EU’s external border, and the activities of organised smuggling rings.
In a statement published Tuesday, the Slovenian Foreign Ministry invoked the EU Court’s ruling stating that internal border checks can only be extended in case of a new serious threat to the country’s public order or internal security. According to the EU court, to comply with EU law, the new threat must differ from the initially established threat.
But according to the Slovenian ministry, Austria is not facing a new threat at the border. It cited statistics that point to a low number of irregular border crossings and the small number of irregular migrants Austria sends back to Slovenia.
“The Republic of Slovenia, therefore, expects that the Republic of Austria will end temporary border checks,” it said.
Data from the Interior Ministry shows that Austrian law enforcement authorities returned 39 illegal migrants to Slovenia in the first nine months, compared to 45 in the same period last year.
(Ela Petrovčič | sta.si)