As 2022 draws to a close, the Austrian authorities are registering a significant reduction in the number of asylum requests, which from the beginning of the year until November exceeded 100,000 cases, the Ministry of the Interior in Vienna informed on Monday, quoted by EFE
These statistics are important because they come just ten days after Austria said it would no longer oppose the expansion of the Schengen area if only one condition were met: a reduction in the number of asylum seekers.
According to official data announced on Monday, 11,890 asylum requests were registered in November, one third less than in October. The total number of asylum requests until the end of November was 101,757 cases.
The Austrian Ministry of the Interior informed in a statement that the decrease in the number of cases in November is a consequence of the fact that there are more controls at the border with Hungary and because Serbia introduced the obligation of visas for Tunisian citizens.
Austria estimates that 40% of asylum seekers arrived on its territory after traveling with or without a visa to Serbia, from where they entered Hungary, whose authorities let them pass, without registering them, all the way to the Austrian border.
That is why, for many months this year, asylum statistics in Austria have been dominated by people from India and Tunisia, as well as Syrians, Afghans, Moroccans and Pakistanis.
However, Tunisians and Indians have no possibility of receiving protection in Austria. Against the background of this situation, the Austrian government has been pressuring the executive in Belgrade since the summer to introduce visas for the citizens of Tunisia and India.
Between January and November, Austria rejected 80,000 asylum applications, while approximately 19,500 people received protection. Apart from these asylum seekers, about 70,000 refugees from Ukraine live in Austria and most of them receive aid from the Austrian state.
Annalena Baerbock: Chancellor Scholz also stepped in for Romania. Accession to Schengen will follow
The German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Annalena Baerbock, said in an interview with Digi24 that Romania’s accession to Schengen will follow, even if the failure in the JHA Council was “a big disappointment”.
“Romania and Bulgaria have done a lot to be prepared for accession to the Schengen area. Romania in particular has made great efforts and meets all the requirements. That accession has not now taken place is therefore a great disappointment. We fought until the last moment for a different decision. On the 8th of December, on the way to Ireland, I talked on the plane with my Austrian counterpart. Also, the federal minister of the interior made every effort in Brussels. And Chancellor Scholz intervened. In my opinion, the fact that no agreement was reached was a European and geopolitical mistake. It is all the more important that we now look forward. Even if this year it wasn’t possible: the Council didn’t say “no”, it just didn’t say “yes” yet. I am convinced that accession to Schengen will follow. To this end, it is important to quickly put this issue back on the agenda in the EU,” Annalena Baerbock stated.