More refugees arrive in Tyrol from Italy

Tyrolean police discovered a group of 28 refugees arriving via train from Italy on Sunday afternoon.

More refugees arrive in Tyrol from Italy
A group of refugees. File photo: APA

The migrants included people from Syria, Palestine, Eritrea and Sudan.  The group included several children.

Police have reported that refugees are being intercepted almost on a daily basis arriving from Italy, which is in most cases their first country of arrival within the EU.

Under the terms of the Dublin II Regulation which codifies EU law on the matter, refugees must be dealt with in the country in which they first arrive for processing.  This means that refugees who cross the border are returned to Italy for further processing.

On Saturday, 26 refugees from Syria and Iraq were intercepted coming through the Bremmer pass.  The day before that, 43 refugees were discovered, including people from Syria and Eritrea.

The constant waves of incoming refugees has triggered extensive political discussions over the possibility of implementing internal borders within the EU, as some politicians — especially those from the far right — are arguing that the Schengen system is not fit for purpose.

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‘Discrimination’: Austria’s benefit cuts for immigrants ‘go against free movement’

Benefit cuts imposed by Austria on immigrants whose children live in their country of origin contradict EU law becasue they constitute "discrimination on the ground of nationality", a legal adviser at the bloc's top court said on Thursday.

A picture of the sign and logo of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg
A picture of the sign and logo of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg on January 13, 2020. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP)

The opinion is the latest legal hitch to befall a series of measures — imposed by a previous government that included the far-right — which sought to restrict benefit payments to foreigners.

Richard de la Tour, advocate general of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), said the cuts to child benefits constituted “an infringement of the right of free movement conferred on EU citizens”.

The specific case relates to reforms that came into effect in 2019 which indexed child benefits according to where the recipient’s children live.

This meant reduced payments for tens of thousands of eastern Europeans who work in Austria — notably in the care sector — but whose children remain in their countries of origin.

The advocate general’s advice is not binding on the court but it is seen as influential.

De la Tour found that the cuts were “indirect discrimination on the ground of nationality which is permissible only if it is objectively justified”, and that Austria had failed to do so.

They contravened the principle that “if a migrant worker pays social contributions and taxes in a member state, he or she must be able to benefit from the same allowances as nationals of that state”, he added.

In 2020 the European Commission, supported by six eastern member states, brought an action before the CJEU claiming Austria was “failing to fulfil its obligations”.

Former Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz had said he hoped the cuts would save 114 million euros ($130 million) a year but in 2019 they recouped 62 million euros.

The former coalition also introduced benefit cuts for immigrants who failed to reach a certain level of German, but those measures were subsequently overturned by the Austrian courts.

The government that introduced in the cuts was brought down in a corruption scandal in May 2019.

It included the centre-right Austrian People’s Party (OeVP), which is still the senior partner in the current government.

However their current coalition partners, the Greens, opposed the benefit cuts at the time.