SHARE
COPY LINK
REFUGEE CRISIS

IMMIGRATION

12,220 refugees enter Austria in 36 hours

A total of 12,220 people entered eastern Austria in the previous 36 hours as the flow of refugees from the Balkans to northern Europe continued, police said on Monday.

12,220 refugees enter Austria in 36 hours
Refugees at the Nickelsdorf border crossing. File photo: APA

On Sunday, 8,540 people entered the country via the Nickelsdorf crossing point with Hungary, followed by another 3,680 between midnight and 7:00 am on Monday, they said.

The total is higher than in recent days, with daily totals over the previous week averaging around 5,500, the vast majority of whom seek to travel onwards to Germany and elsewhere.

Police spokesman Gerald Koller told AFP that the increase follows a recent rise in numbers entering Macedonia from Greece on their way northwards through Serbia, Croatia and Hungary.

“This is not a record, though. There were days last month when we had daily totals of 12,000 or 14,000,” Koller said.

Hungarian police said 7,879 migrants entered the country on Sunday and 7,907 on Saturday, also higher than the average of previous days.

Europe's biggest influx of migrants has seen several hundred thousand people enter the continent this year, many fleeing conflict in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The crisis has exposed deep divisions within the 28-nation European Union over how to distribute the new arrivals and stemming the flow, as well as a rise in popularity for nationalist parties.

IMMIGRATION

‘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.

SHOW COMMENTS