The authorities in Switzerland and Austria plan to strengthen cooperation in order to prevent entry to people trying to reach these countries by illegal means and to tighten controls at external borders.
These decisions follow the meeting between Federal Chancellor Karin Keller-Sutter and her new Austrian counterpart, Federal Interior Minister Gerhard Karner, TheSchengen.com reports.
During the meeting, among other things, the revision of the Schengen rules relating to border controls, the ongoing EU negotiations to reform the immigration and asylum system in Europe, as well as bilateral cooperation in the field of migration and counter-terrorism were discussed.
Switzerland and Austria agree that the increased secondary migration, in particular, requires a response at the European level. Therefore, both countries welcome the proposal of the EU Commission to reform the Schengen border law, and support the proposal of the French presidency to move forward step-by-step and pragmatically and to implement the uncontested proposals first”, reads the statement published by the Swiss government.
The same reveals attempts at reform to allow joint police operations and facilitate readmission among EU member states.
According to SwissInfo, more than 5,000 refugees have arrived in Switzerland illegally by train from Austria since mid-2021. The same source shows that the largest number of them were citizens of Afghanistan who tried to reach France. In addition, the largest number of them applied for asylum in Austria; Therefore, the authorities in Switzerland are eligible to return them.
However, the decision to return the refugees is rarely enforced by the Swiss authorities, according to news agency Keystone-SDA, due to lengthy procedures as well as a lack of detention facilities.
Both countries had previously concluded bilateral readmission agreements; But the procedures for such agreements need to be improved.
In this regard, Federal Chancellor Karen Keeler-Sutter stressed during a press conference that “the current agreement of 2001 is outdated, and we continue to work on it together and we also want to continue joint police patrols.”
With regard to the common interest in protecting external borders, the two ministers agreed that reform of immigration and asylum law at the EU level is necessary as soon as possible.
The two ministers also stressed during the meeting that cooperation within the countries of the Schengen area and tightening protection of the external borders are very important to the security of citizens.