Austria is thinking of fencing off the main border crossing migrants use to enter the country from Slovenia.
Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann has said this move will give them better control of arrivals. The chancellor revealed after a cabinet meeting that a series of barriers would be erected at the Spielfeld border crossing with Slovenia, where several thousand migrants have been arriving every day. The barriers will improve security, but would be nothing like the hundreds of miles of razor wire fencing Hungary has put up along the length of its frontier.
“We want to be able to carry out controls on people, and for that, one needs certain technical security measures”, he told reporters.
However, in a joint statement later, Faymann and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said “fences have no place in Europe”.
In the meantime, Germany has said that it expects the number of deportations of failed asylum seekers to go up. Germany and Austria, two countries at the heart of Europe’s refugee crisis are toughening their tone. They are trying to deter refugees from setting out on their journeys.
According to UN estimates, more than 700,000 migrants have crossed to Europe by boat so far this year, most of them from war-ravaged Syria, in spite of the approaching winter. There are occasionally accidents too. At least 3 migrants drowned and 242 were saved when a boat sank off the Greek island of Lesbos recently.
Austria’s response comes after Slovenia said it could erect a fence along its border with Croatia if an EU plan agreed on Sunday was not implemented. On Sunday, 11 EU countries and 3 non-EU states agreed to set up reception centers with another 50,000 spaces in Balkan countries. It was also decided that 400 guards will be send to assist Slovenia within a week.
However, EU members have previously been slow to deliver on pledges of assistance.
Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria have all suggested that they might also construct their own barriers. About 85,000 refugees have poured into Slovenia in the last 10 days, after Hungary closed its border with Serbia and Croatia.