Germany extends passport controls on Austrian border, flights from Greece
BERLIN, Oct 12 (Reuters) – Germany has extended temporary
passport controls on its border with Austria and for flights
coming from Greece for six more months amid continuing concerns
about attacks and illegal immigration, the Interior Ministry
said on Thursday.
The European Commission last month offered initial backing
to a Franco-German proposal to allow more permanent border
checks within the bloc’s Schengen free-travel zone.
Germany notified the European Commission, the Council of the
European Union, the President of the European Parliament and the
interior ministers of the EU-Schengen states about its decision
in a letter on Wednesday.
The commission allowed Germany to control its border with
Austria in 2015 after a surge of refugees and migrants began
arriving in western Europe. The temporary permission was due to
expire on Nov. 11.
Immigration will be a key issue in coalition talks by
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, the pro-business Free
Democrats and the environmentalist Greens.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere justified Germany’s
move given continued security concerns, and said a complete
return to free travel within the Schengen area was contingent on
an improvement in the overall situation.
Germany was hit by five Islamist attacks in 2016, including
one in December on a Berlin Christmas market that killed 12
“We are working hard on this, all member states, the EU
Commission and the EU Council, but there is still a long way to
go,” de Maiziere said in a statement.
Border controls also apply to flights to Germany from
Greece, which was the gateway for thousands of migrants from
Iraq and Syria.
Ministry data on Wednesday showed that 140,000 asylum
seekers have registered in Germany since the beginning of 2017.
(Reporting by Riham Alkousaa; Editing by Alison Williams)