Austria to adopt stricter asylum laws, present border measures

Austria is set to move towards tougher measures on Wednesday to limit the number of new asylum requests.

Legislators in Vienna are expected to pass an amendment that allows the government to adopt emergency measures if the number of arrivals threatens to overburden Austria's public services.

These measures would include the rejection of all asylum seekers at borders except for those few who have immediate family in Austria or who face inhumane treatment if they are pushed back to another country.

The centrist coalition government drafted the amendments amid growing popular support for the anti-immigration Freedom Party (FPOe).

However, the FPOe has criticized the bill as too lax and has said that it will oppose it.

There have also been a growing number of voices from inside Chancellor Werner Faymann's Social Democratic Party who fear that the emergency measures would undermine efforts to find an EU-wide solution to the refugee crisis.

At the Brenner mountain pass, which divides Austria and Italy, Austrian police are scheduled to present plans to reporters for strict border checks there, in case Italy is faced with a major inflow of onward travelling migrants and is unable to control the situation.

The plan has raised concerns in Italy, as the border controls could hamper traffic on this key European road cargo route.

"The closure of the Brenner would be enormously damaging to the economy and transport, but also enormously damaging to the European Union because the Brenner pass is the symbol of European integration," Italy's Infrastructure and Transport Minister Graziano Delrio said Monday in Rome.

Austria's chamber of commerce is also worried that its freighters will lose money.

Delays and traffic jams at the Brenner would create damages of 1 million euros (1.1 million dollars) a day, chamber official Alexander Klacska told dpa.

"That's bad news," he said.

Last update: Fri, 24/06/2016 - 08:49

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