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SECURITY

Border controls between Austria and Germany to stay in place, Berlin confirms

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière announced on Thursday that Berlin would be extending border controls for a further six months, meaning checks will stay in place in the Alpine region.

Border controls between Austria and Germany to stay in place, Berlin confirms
Photo: DPA

The special regulation, which overrides the open borders of the Schengen agreement, would have run out on November 11th. The interior ministry stated that the decision only affects the land border with Austria and flights from Greece to Germany.

De Maizière said that a series of terror attacks in Germany and Europe were the cause of the extension.

“There are still deficiencies in the protection of the EU external borders, as well as a considerable amount of illegal immigration within the Schengen area,” he said.

SEE ALSO: Germany opposed to rapid expansion of passport-free Schengen area

The German interior minister said that the decision had been made after discussions with EU partners.

“A complete return to a Schengen area without border controls is only possible when an overall positive development allows for it,” he said.

On Thursday Denmark also announced it would be extending border controls on its border with Germany. Copenhagen also justified the decision due to terror concerns.

The EU had wanted the border controls to be abolished by the end of the year. But Germany is one of five countries seeking to change the rules to allow for border controls to stay in place for up to four years.

READ MORE: Denmark to propose changes to Schengen to enable extended border control

EUROPEAN UNION

EU court rejects Austria case against Hungary nuclear plant

The EU's second highest court on Wednesday rejected a complaint by Austria against a European Commission decision to approve the expansion of a nuclear plant in neighbouring Hungary with Russian aid.

EU court rejects Austria case against Hungary nuclear plant

Staunchly anti-nuclear Austria lodged the legal complaint in 2018 after the European Union’s executive arm allowed the expansion of the Paks nuclear plant outside the Hungarian capital Budapest with a 10-billion-euro ($12.4 billion) Russian loan.

The plant is Hungary’s only nuclear facility and supplies around 40 percent of its electricity needs.

In its decision the commission judged that the project met EU rules on state aid, but Austria disputed this.

The General Court of the EU ruled Wednesday that “member states are free to determine the composition of their own energy mix and that the Commission cannot require that state financing be allocated to alternative energy sources.”

READ ALSO: Why is Austria so anti nuclear power? 

Hungary aims to have two new reactors enter service by 2030, more than doubling the plant’s current capacity with the 12.5-billion-euro construction. The Paks plant was built with Soviet-era technology in the 1980s during Hungary’s communist period. 

The construction of two new reactors is part of a 2014 deal struck between Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Victor Orban and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The work is carried out by Moscow’s state-owned nuclear agency Rosatom.

The details of the deal have been classified for 30 years for “national security reasons” with critics alleging this could conceal corruption.

READ ALSO: Reader question: What are the chances of blackouts in Austria this winter?

Since the late 1970s, Austria has been fiercely anti-nuclear, starting with an unprecedented vote by its population that prevented the country’s only plant from providing a watt of power.

Last month, the Alpine EU member filed a complaint with the European Court of Justice over the bloc’s decision to label nuclear power as green.

In 2020, the top EU court threw out an appeal by Austria to find British government subsidies for the nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in breach of the bloc’s state aid rules.

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