Austria to deter 'economic migrants' amid refugee influx

Austrian will intensify border controls to differentiate between 'economic migrants' and asylum seekers

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann addresses a news conference after a cabinet meeting in Vienna, Austria, January 12, 2016

Austria will intensify border controls in order to differentiate between asylum seekers and economic migrants in a bid to tackle the refugee influx into the country, Chancellor Werner Faymann said.

In the past year, hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing from conflict and poverty in the Middle East and Africa have entered Austria, many en route to Germany.

During the course of last year, around 90,000 asylum applications were made to the country, around three times more than those registered in 2014.

"One must transit to a Plan B. That means to intensify policies together with Germany to send back economic migrants and decrease overall numbers," Social Democrat Cahncellor Faymann said in an interview with Austrian newspaper Krone published on Tuesday.

"One thing is certain in any case: shortly, we will be more active at our borders than today. The Germans will also do more."

Chancellor Faymann, who previously was more lenient on the handling of the refugees, eventually gave in to pressure from his conservative coalition partners and the far-right Freedom Party which recently raised its favourability rates in recent opinion polls.

Last month, Faymann said Austria should increase deportations of refugees who did not meet the criteria needed for asylum, while Vice Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner said Austria can not accept more than nearly 100,000 refugees.

TRTWorld and agencies