Austria, Germany and Slovenia have agreed upon a common strategy for dealing with a large amount of the refugees attempting to cross their borders. EURACTIV Germany reports.
After a prolonged period of uncertainty, there are now clear rules and regulations in place. Germany is now ready to take 7,200 refugees a day via five fixed, official crossing points.
Austria will care for those who are not seeking asylum in the alpine republic, especially those who have put Germany as their preferred destination, providing transport, in the form of buses and trains, and accommodation.
Slovenia will put on three special trains a day that can transport 1,500 passengers from Jesenice to Rosenbach in Austria. It is hoped that these measures will diffuse any tension at the border, and will facilitate the registration of the refugees through more regulated means.
In the short term, it will also provide help to Croatia and Serbia, who have requested aid from the EU. The Austrian Ministry for the Interior has put together an aid convoy that will provide thousands of blankets, first-aid kits, winter sleeping bags, disposable gloves and rain ponchos to help refugees during the winter months.
Fences or “waiting-rooms”?
It is still unclear how the situation at Spielfeld, an Austrian town near the Slovenian border, will be managed; refugees have consistently crossed the border unofficially, by trekking across fields and through woodland. There are divided opinions in Vienna on the best course of action to take.
>>Read: Austria shelves border fence
Minister of the Interior, Johanna Mikl-Leitner (ÖVP), told Austrian television that she is in favour of some kind of physical barrier. However, the Minister of Defence, Gerald Klug (SPÖ), after an on-site inspection, believes that the existing area should be upgraded, so the crowds can be managed more effectively and panic prevented.
More than jobs
Next week, a plan on how Austria can best integrate the tens of thousands of refugees into society is set to be presented. In addition to guidance on language acquisition and finding employment, fundamental Austrian and European values are to be communicated to new arrivals that are mostly from completely different cultures.
High quality of life
Statistics Austria published a study that concluded that countries like Austria exert a strong pull on refugees and that it is one of the most liveable countries in Europe. For example, even though real GDP in 2014 decreased by 0.4% compared with the previous year, Austria still ranks second in this category in the EU.
It also ranks just behind Germany as the country with the second highest amount of disposable income. In terms of satisfaction with quality of life, when asked to give a response between 0 and 10, Austrians responded on average with a mark of 7.8, which is above the EU-average of 7.1.