AUSTRIA has unveiled plans to build a massive 100km fence along its border to stop migrants and refugees crossing into the country.
Engineers in the central European state have finalised plans for the vast barrier, which would stretch along its entire southern border with Hungary.
Austria has repeatedly clashed with Brussels over its clampdown on illegal migration and has already put a daily cap on the number of people who can claim asylum.
And earlier this year the country’s parliament voted through a motion allowing it to declare a state of emergency if migrant numbers suddenly rise, meaning it could instantly shut its borders.
The new border fence will mark a considerable escalation in Austria’s physical attempts to bring down migration, with the country only having constructed one small 4km fence along its border with Slovenia to date.
State officials have reached agreements with hundreds of landowners along the 100km stretch of border which will allow the fence to be put up in record time should the number of refugees increase again, according to a police spokesman.
Austria is on the Balkan migration route to the ‘promised lands’ of Germany and Sweden, where most asylum seekers arriving in Europe want to settle and start a better life.
At one point last year the country was brought to its knees by thousands of people crossing its borders every day, but the numbers have tailed off significantly since the EU signed its migrant deal with Turkey.
Only between 20 and 30 migrants arrive in Austria from Hungary every day at the moment but, with the political chaos in Turkey and the possible collapse of the current agreement, the country has decided to take precautions.
The fence will cover just a third of the 300km border between the two countries, but officials have said that they other sections are too remote and difficult to traverse to provide an attractive migration route.
It will be patrolled day and night by troops and police dog teams in the event of a state of emergency being declared, providing an impregnable barrier to the movement of large numbers of people northwards.
Neighbour Hungary is no stranger to border fences, having angered EU officials by building its own 175km fence along its border with Serbia last year when the migrant crisis was at its peak.
But relations between Hungary and Austria have been strained in recent months, with Vienna demanding that Budapest take back several thousand migrants under the Dublin agreement – a request which has so far been refused.