Germany, Austria introduce spot border checks with Czechia to curb illegal migration

In the past 48 hours, Germany and Austria both announced they are introducing random checks on their border with Czechia in an effort to curb the growing flow of illegal migrants. The further tightening of border controls suggests that similar measures taken by Czechia, Slovakia and Poland have failed to stem the flow of migrants heading for a better life in Germany.  

Neighboring Germany has been struggling to deal with a steady inflow of asylum seekers and illegal migrants heading for the country via its eastern and southern neighbors.

Photo: Markus Schreiber,  ČTK

More than 233,000 people have applied for asylum in Germany between January and the end of September, and critics say it is possible that without intervention there could be as many as 400,000 by the end of the year. This year, the police have already recorded some 98,000 cases of illegal entry into Germany, compared with 92,000 last year.

This despite the fact that Czechia, Poland and Slovakia introduced spot border checks on October 4, and last week extended them until November 2, to try to curb the flow of migrants headed for Germany. Austria has now announced it too will introduce spot checks on its border with Czechia.

Photo: Ondřej Hájek,  ČTK

Since the spot checks were introduced, Czech police have detained close to 700 illegal migrants and 30 smugglers. In one case, there were 76 migrants, of that 23 children, crammed in a truck in inhumane conditions.

Germany’s Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said the need to intensify the fight against smugglers was one of the reasons why Germany was introducing the border controls, which were initially described as a “last resort”.

She also pointed to the need to curb illegal migration so as to relieve German municipalities.

Interior Minister Vít Rakušan said in response to the move that he did not expect any disruption to traffic on the common border.

Vít Rakušan | Photo: Office of Czech Government

“Minister Faeser has assured me that the checks will be random checks, similarly as those that are effected on the Czech-Slovak border. We already have joint German and Czech patrols on our side of the border working to detect illegal migrants so this should be similar –only the checks will now take place at the actual border crossings.”

However, he added that the fact that so many European countries had been forced to introduce border controls for repeatedly-extended,  short periods in order to adhere to the Schengen Borders Code was further proof that Europe needs a viable common solution for the protection of its external borders.