Austria’s interior minister has said his country will continue to conduct checks on the borders with neighboring Hungary and Slovenia. All three EU countries are members of the Schengen zone whose members don't have controls at their mutual borders. But six Schengen countries, including Austria, have reintroduced border checks for security reasons.
Austria will continue to control its borders to Hungary and Slovenia in the coming months. Wolfgang Peschorn, the country’s interior minister, announced the decision on Tuesday on the sidelines of the meeting of EU interior ministers in Luxembourg. All the countries are member states of the European Union.
Austria has been conducting border checks on its borders with Hungary and Slovenia since September 2015 when tens of thousands of migrants crossed the Balkan route to reach western Europe. The checks were set to expire on November 12.
"We will take account of the circumstances and continue the existing border checks at the borders with Hungary and Slovenia," Peschorn said according to Austrian news agency APA.
The checks are to be extended by six months until May 2020. According to Schengen rules, a member country can reintroduce internal border checks and extend them for 6-month periods for an unlimited time.
Six European states conducting border checks
At the end of September, Germany’s interior minister Horst Seehofer had announced to extend the checks on the German border with Austria beyond November 11. A spokesperson cited security reasons and maintaining overall control over migration as reasons.
The Schengen area covers most of the EU countries except UK, Ireland, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus. Non-EU members Norway, Switzerland and Iceland are associate members of the Schengen zone. In theory, the Schengen zone abolished all internal border checks to allow an unrestricted movement of people.
In recent years, however, several states had used an exemption and reintroduced border checks. Six European countries are currently controlling their borders: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Germany and France.
With material from dpa