Vienna to turn away refugees at its border

Austria's ÖVP and SPÖ coalition has agreed on an emergency asylum law according to which refugees may be turned away at the border if the number of migrants reaches an upper limit, set at 37,500 for 2016. The law is highly controversial in Austria, as the commentaries show.

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Kurier (AT) /

An endorsement for the far-right FPÖ

It is not even clear when the upper limit will begin to apply, the daily Kurier observes disapprovingly:

“One politician wants the cap to apply immediately because waiting any longer will only worsen the supposed crisis. Another wants the new regulation to come into effect as soon as refugee numbers start getting close to the upper limit of 37,500. A third wants it to apply only once the 37,500 limit is reached and a fourth when the limit has been exceeded. Average voters can only shake their heads in wonder at the chaos: the government is basically endorsing the FPÖ on a daily basis. If the red-black coalition continues with this amateurish behaviour, Norbert Hofer may well win the presidential elections in three and a half weeks' time. It appears the real crisis is not within the country but within the government.”

Die Presse (AT) /

An attempt to get the situation under control

With its emergency decree on asylum the government is just trying to stay in control of the situation in the refugee crisis, Die Presse observes:

“From a legal point of view the refugee crisis is new territory. The upper limit and the associated emergency decree are nothing but an attempt to bring the crisis under control and create a deterrent that can stem the flow of refugees. A last resort. A way of somehow sticking to the Geneva Convention without overstretching oneself. However, the Geneva Convention was never meant to cover mass refugee movements or small-scale migrations of peoples. … Deportations are the exception, not the rule. Once someone is in the country they stay there, even illegally. This faces legislators with a dilemma, but the government can't tie itself up to the point where it is no longer capable of action. So this is an attempt, using little tricks - an upper limit, an emergency decree - to control the situation and stay in power.”