Border controls tightened between Germany and Switzerland
The Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) has announced that police in Switzerland and Germany have tightened border checks between the two countries in a bid to stop human trafficking. Experts have warned that the stationary checks proposed by authorities in the federal republic will likely cause traffic jams and disruption on both sides of the border.
Germany tightens border checks with Poland, Czechia and Switzerland
On Monday, authorities in Germany informed the European Union Commission that they would begin stationary border checks at the German borders with Poland, Czechia and Switzerland. The initial test is expected to last until October 26, but can be extended for up to two months if required - the policy is already enforced on the Germany-Austria border.
Speaking to 20 Minuten, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said the emergency services can now “use the entire package of stationary and mobile border police measures.” She confirmed that the Swiss government, specifically Minister of the Interior Elisabeth Baume-Schneider, was informed of the decision on Monday afternoon.
Measures designed to disrupt human trafficking
The new stationary checks are meant to prevent and disrupt human trafficking operations that pass through Switzerland on their way to Germany. According to the EU border force Frontex, between January and August 2023, 114.265 migrants used the so-called “central Mediterranean” route through Switzerland and Austria to reach Germany. The majority of the migrants, who make the perilous journey to seek more stable living conditions or safety from conflict, were from Syria.
In 2023, Germany has seen a 74 percent increase in the number of migrants applying for asylum in the country. To get them to German cities, human traffickers often take huge fees or demand loans or servitude from their victims, and subject them to horrific conditions in transit. Just last week, seven migrants were killed when a van carrying them overturned in Austria as it tried to reach Munich - the road accident was blamed on the van's attempt to evade police.
“The smugglers’ business is becoming increasingly brutal and unscrupulous. The terrible deaths of seven people who were smuggled across the German-Austrian border on Friday night shocked us deeply. It is now necessary to take all possible measures to stop this cruel business with people's lives," Faeser said in a statement.
Traffic jams at Swiss-German border are inevitable
For the estimated 1,5 million people who travel across the Swiss-German border every day for jobs or to see family and friends, Faeser assured that “the controls [will] have as little impact as possible on the everyday life of commuters, on trade and on travel.” However, migration expert Eduard Gnesa told 20 Minuten that even if not all cars are stopped, traffic jams and waiting times at the border are “inevitable”, significantly impacting holders of cross-border residence permits.
For its part, Daniel Bach, chief spokesperson for the Federal Department of Justice and Police, said that Switzerland had already increased its presence on the border back in September and “reserves the right to further adapt its border arrangements flexibly and depending on the situation.”
He added that German authorities “assured that the controls should be carried out selectively and proportionately in order to disrupt the everyday life of commuters as little as possible.”
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