Austria wants to cut the number of new refugees it receives after asylum requests tripled to 90,000 last year, Chancellor Werner Faymann told reporters after a government meeting.
Austria needs to speed the return of people who are denied asylum back to their countries of origin, Faymann said Tuesday in Vienna. Stop-gap measures to strengthen border controls and allow temporary asylum are also under discussion while the European Union seeks to streamline its response to the crisis
“I don’t want an upper limit in the asylum law, but to reduce the number of refugees by distributing them within the European Union,” said Faymann, a Social Democrat who has led Austria’s coalition government since 2008.
Germany has compounded the pressure on Austrian authorities by sending back increasing numbers of refugees deemed to have crossed the border illegally, the Austrian Press Agency reported, citing German police. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has moved swiftly to tighten asylum rules in response to to public outrage over New Year’s Eve sexual assaults.
“We’re already going to have a hard time integrating those who are already here,” said Austrian Vice Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner of the conservative People’s Party. “Everything on top of that is a burden we can’t shoulder.”