Focus on Strengthening External Border Protection: Meeting of Interior Ministers in Szeged

PeoplePoliticians ♦ Published: December 3, 2023; 17:56 ♦ (Vindobona)

At a meeting in Szeged, Hungary, interior ministers from the Visegrád 4 states (Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic), Austria and Germany emphasized the need for robust protection of the EU's external borders and a reform of EU migration policy. The Austrian police are heavily involved in the Balkans to control migration and combat organized smuggling.

Austria's Interior Minister Gerhard Karner met the interior ministers of the Visegrad 4 countries and Germany's Interior Minister Nancy Faeser for a working meeting in Szeged, Hungary. / Picture: © BMI Bundesministerium für Inneres / Ministère de l'intérieur

Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner emphasized the importance of cooperation with countries of origin and transit to reduce illegal migration and prevent people from taking dangerous routes to Europe. He emphasized the importance of securing the mainland and supporting countries such as Tunisia in border protection.

The interior ministers plan to exert further pressure on the EU Commission to achieve more robust border security. An operational exchange of investigators is planned in Vienna in January to intensify the fight against smuggling. The aim is to strengthen structural investigations and the detection of financial flows to combat organized migrant smuggling in the long term.

Austrian boots on the ground

Austria is intensifying its support in the area of border protection in south-eastern Europe through the use of drone technology. According to the Austrian Ministry of the Interior, Austrian police officers are currently stationed in Serbia to help secure the border with North Macedonia using drones.

Interior Minister Gerhard Karner emphasized the importance of close, cross-border cooperation in the fight against human smuggling. The expertise of Austrian drone specialists will therefore be used to monitor and secure the border region between Serbia and North Macedonia.

In Hungary, up to 70 Austrian police officers carry out border area checks together with Slovakian and Czech colleagues. A further 40 police officers are securing the approach to the Austrian border with Hungary as part of "Operation Fox". In Serbia, 33 Austrian police officers are helping to secure the border with North Macedonia.

New Plans Against Illegal Migration

The latest migration situation shows an increase in irregular migration in the Balkans and a shift in routes, which has significantly reduced the number of asylum applications in Austria and apprehensions in Burgenland.

The establishment of a new joint working group on border security was also decided at the meeting. The ministers emphasized the need for a common European solution and a reform of EU migration policy. An important step is the strengthening of EU external border controls and the development of a clear return policy. A holistic approach to migration, including more effective funding, strategic partnerships with countries of origin and transit, tackling the root causes of illegal migration, and strengthening border management and administration capacities, was considered essential.

The ministers stressed the importance of prevention and cooperation with third countries as well as external border defense, which should be strengthened through close and innovative partnerships with Europe's neighboring countries. They agreed to continue the intensive fight against human smugglers and traffickers, in particular by developing operational cooperation and continuing joint patrol services in the border regions of the Visegrád countries.

Austrian Ministry of Interior

Czech Ministry of Interior

Hungarian Ministry of Interior