Germany to reinstate border controls amid record refugee influx

Agence France-Presse
A migrant child and its parent wait outside the train station upon arrival on September 12, 2015 in Munich, Germany. 
Philipp Guelland

Germany is to reinstate controls at the border with Austria as Europe's top economy struggles to cope with a record influx of refugees, according to media reports Sunday.

Austria's state-owned rail operator also announced that all trains into the neighboring EU state would be halted from 1500 GMT without giving a reason.

Passport checks had been abolished for countries within Europe's Schengen zone, but the decision to bring back controls is expected to be announced by German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere at a press conference on Sunday evening, several German media reports said.

The decision was made in a telephone conversation between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Austrian counterpart Werner Faymann, when the two leaders spoke about a "gradual return" to regular border controls, Austrian news agency APA reported, quoting a spokeswoman at Faymann's office.

The change would be carried out in a manner to avoid any "chaotic situation" at the border, she added.

Germany has become the destination of choice for migrants, particularly Syrians, after Merkel relaxed asylum rules for citizens of the war-torn country.

But with 450,000 migrants arriving since the beginning of the year, infrastructure in Germany has been stretched to the limit.

By reinstating controls, Berlin is seeking to buy time to cope with the influx, according to news magazine the Spiegel.

Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt had issued a statement earlier Sunday saying that "effective measures are necessary now to stop the influx".

"That includes help for countries from where refugees are fleeing and also includes an effective control of our own borders which also no longer works given the EU's complete failure to protect its external borders," he said.