STA, 17 May 2022 - Five Slovenian MEPs have sent a public letter to Austria and the European Commission criticising the recent decision of Austria to again extend police controls on the border with Slovenia, labelling the move as unjustified and disproportionate. They argue that this is confirmed by the valid EU law and the recent decision of the EU court.
The letter signed by Irena Joveva, Klemen Grošelj (both Renew/LMŠ), Milan Brglez (S&D/SD), Ljudmila Novak (EPP/NSi) and Franc Bogovič (EPP/SLS) is addressed to Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, Interior Minister Gerhard Karner and Ylva Johansson as the competent European commissioner.
It notes that Slovenia was more than appropriately addressing the challenges in irregular migration, possible terrorist threats and trafficking in human beings.
The functioning Schengen Area poses no threat to Austria, while border control severely restricts freedom of movement, the letter says, adding that there were no new threats to justify the decision.
According to the five Slovenian MEPs, the subsequent six-month extensions of internal border control since 2015 have not been in line with the EU rules.
They have urged the Austrian government to reconsider its intention to renew control on the EU's internal border, and asked the Commission to issue an opinion about the necessity or proportionality of the decision of the Austrian authorities.
The MEPs noted that reintroducing internal border control should be a measure of last resort and that alternative measures for internal border control should be sought.
The Commission told the STA that the relevant ruling of the EU Court of Justice clarified the rules applied for temporary reintroduction of internal border control. A preliminary ruling says the matter must now be decided by a national court.
It added that it was working with the EU member states to end the continued reintroduction of internal border control in close technical and political dialogue.
The Commission is also ready to work with the European Parliament and the Council to address the issue in the ongoing negotiations on updating the Schengen Borders Code, it added.
In April, the EU Court of Justice said that a Schengen Area member state could reintroduce border control in the event of a serious threat to its public order or internal security, but should not exceed the maximum total duration of six months.
It may reintroduce the measure immediately after the end of this six-month period, but only if it faces a new serious threat that is different from the one originally identified.
Austria notified the Commission last week that it would extend control on its borders with Hungary and Slovenia for at least six months. The war in Ukraine was cited among the reasons for the decisions this time.