The Slovenia Times

Klagenfurt law firm brings constitutional appeal over border checks

Austria the last of Slovenia's neighbour to lift travel restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Photo: dpa/STA

The Klagenfurt-based law firm of members of the Slovenian community in Carinthia has filed a complaint with the Austrian Constitutional Court over the country's recent decision to extend controls at the border with Slovenia for yet another six months.

The law firm Grilc Vouk Škof took legal action after Austria formally announced its intention last week to extend the border checks regime on the borders with Slovenia and Hungary, citing migration and security situation in the EU as the reason.

According to a release issued by one of the partners, Rudi Vouk, on 19 April, the law firm argues that border controls are in contravention of relevant rulings of the EU Court and "violate the citizens' right to equality before law and further rights guaranteed by the constitution".

It invokes the 2022 April ruling in which the EU Court established that a member state may reintroduce controls at its borders with other member states in the event of a serious threat to its public order or internal security.

However, the checks may not exceed a total duration of six months, whereas Austria introduced checks on its borders with Slovenia and Hungary in 2015, at the height of the refugee crisis, and has kept extending them by six months ever since.

In the period between May 2016 and November 2017, Austria relied on four consecutive recommendations by the Council of the EU in extending the border checks.

From November 2017, the country reintroduced border controls on its own initiative for repeated consecutive six-month periods.

According to the EU Court, Austria has not proved the existence of a new serious threat since 10 November 2017, which is the expiration date of the last recommendation from the Council.

In its appeal, the law firm argues that the EU Court has found that controls on the Austrian-Slovenian border have no longer been permitted without additional justification as of 2017 and that Austria has since then failed to sufficiently justify it.

Slovenia has been protesting against extensions of the border checks on the grounds that they have been unwarranted.

Grilc Vouk Škof also notes in its complaint Carinthia Governor Peter Kaiser's argument that there has been no reason for border checks on the border between Slovenia and Austria any longer.


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