A boy plays near the Greece-Macedonian border CREDIT: DIMITAR DILKOFF /AFP
Justin Huggler, berlin
31 MARCH 2016 • 5:36PM
Austria has announced tough new plans to reject almost all asylum-seekers at its borders as it continues a crackdown against migrants.
Under the new measures, all asylum claims will be decided within an hour at the country’s borders.
Only migrants who have an immediate relative already granted asylum in Austria will be allowed to enter.
Applicants who are at risk of death or inhumane treatment if they are not granted asylum will also be allowed in.
But in practice almost no one will be able to claim asylum on the grounds of physical danger as they will be judged to be safe in the neighbouring European countries they have travelled through.
The makeshift migrant camp near the Greek village of Idomeni CREDIT: LOUISA GOULIAMAKI /AFP
All migrants whose claims are rejected will be turned back at the border.
“We will not accept any applications for asylum unless we are obliged to under criteria such as Article 8 of the European Convetion on Human Rights,” Johanna Mikl-Leitner, the Austrian interior minister, said.
Werner Faymann, the Austrian chancellor, indicated the country will no longer allow asylum-seekers to cross its territory on their way to Germany.
If Germany wants to accept asylum-seekers, “they must be picked up from where they are, before they make an illegal journey,” Mr Faymann said.
The new plans come after a quota system imposed earlier this year by the Austrian government to limit refugee numbers was ruled illegal by its own experts.
In January, the Austrian government announced it would only accept 37,500 asylum-seekers this year. It later moved to impose daily caps.
But the European Commission challenged the quota policy as illegal under EU law.
Mr Faymman’s government appointed its own panel of experts to examine the policy, but they ruled it was illegal.
Austria has been locked in a dispute with Germany over its efforts to stop the influx of asylum-seekers by sealing borders along the “Balkan Route”.
The numbers of migrants travelling through Europe has fallen dramatically since Austria and other countries moved to close their borders.
But Angela Merkel has accused them of creating a new humanitarian crisis in Greece by confining migrants there.