Refugees: Vienna to send troops to Brenner Pass

In view of rising migrant numbers in Italy, the government in Vienna has threatened to ramp up border controls and send troops to guard Brenner Pass. Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz let it be known that the country's borders would be "protected" if necessary. Are these statements just campaign bluster or the logical consequence of the EU's failure to manage the refugee crisis?

Open/close all quotes
Zeit Online (DE) /

Unscrupulous and dangerous

Zeit Online is appalled at Vienna's plans:

“Kurz doesn't seem to care less what harm he does in Europe with his threatening bluster. The Italian government has already demanded that the EU initiate proceedings against Austria, and summoned the Austrian ambassador in Rome. It is entirely conceivable that the situation will escalate further: let's not forget that Austria and Italy were arch-enemies throughout the long 19th century and right up until the end of WWI. Now as in the past, their rhetorical weapons arsenals are well stocked. But Kurz doesn't care about all that. He's waging a campaign against Italy because he wants to be the chancellor in Vienna. That is unscrupulous and dangerous.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Austria pulls the ripcord

Austria's threats are understandable, Der Standard argues:

“Some security experts fear that the situation on the Libyan route could become as critical as that on the Balkan route in autumn 2015. … And how has the Commission reacted? Correct, it has presented a new paper. It contains one or two good ideas for curbing the human smugglers' activities. Or for getting money to Africa in the hope that this will translate into fewer migrants to Europe. But those who expected the EU to take a more comprehensive approach to its fundamental problem this time will be disappointed: the Action Plan contains neither ideas for finally putting asylum laws on a pan-European footing nor for a sensible reform of Schengen, the internal border control system. It's no wonder countries like Austria are seeking their own solution, in this case for the Brenner Pass.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Just shifting the problems southwards

Border controls are no solution as they only transfer the problem elsewhere, The Guardian believes:

“EU migration policies need to be overhauled. Fear of a populist backlash leaves governments wary of creating the safe, legal routes that would allow an orderly processing of asylum claims. Not all migrants are entitled to asylum, but all asylum claims must be fairly examined. Crisis management that centres on border control, even if it is pushed back to Libya's southern borders, is not enough. Outsourcing the problem to Libya's coastguards or militias only makes it worse.”