STA, 7 June 2022 - The newspaper Dnevnik writes on Tuesday that statistics on illegal migration do not justify Austria's continued passport controls on the border with Slovenia, noting that it is in violation of the freedom of movement, one of the EU's core values.
The paper notes how 15 years ago when Slovenia joined the Schengen area Austria's economy minister of the time, Martin Bartenstein, hailed the end of border controls and freedom of movement at Šentilj crossing.
Given that Austria reintroduced border checks in the autumn of 2015, "our joy and freedom lasted but half the time that we have been part of the Schengen club, which promised us free travel across Europe without having to wait or show our ID at border crossings."
The paper says that a 36-year-old EU citizen took the promise seriously and refused to show his ID document at Šentilj in 2019. He was fined but filed legal action with the relevant court in Austria's Styria. On the court's request to give its opinion, the EU court in April this year ruled that Austria has since 2017 failed to prove it faced a new direct threat from open borders as required by the Schengen Code.
"In the end, judges in Styria will decide about the claim of the 36-year-old plaintiff [...] but anyone who will have a look at the statistics from the Federal Criminal Investigation Office or the Austrian Statistical Office over recent few years has a right to wonder why the hell the Austrians control the border with Slovenia, apart from the one with Hungary."
"As far as Hungary is concerned, it is possible to understand, because last year, most illegal migrants were apprehended in Burgenland, which mainly borders Hungary, but the second largest number of illegal migrants was intercepted in Lower Austria, which borders the Czech Republic and Slovakia, where Austria no longer conducts any border checks," writes the paper under the headline Why the Hell Šentilj (Zakaj hudiča Šentilj), adding that the Šentilj crossing has never been listed as problematic for illegal migration.