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Four Times as Many Austrians as Hungarians Get Permits to Cross the Border at Schattendorf

Hungary Today 2024.02.07.

Following a first-instance ruling by the Eisenstadt Regional Court (Kismarton), the pedestrian zone at the border crossing between Schattendorf (Somfalva) and Ágfalva (Agendorf), currently only accessible to drivers with a permit, is legal. The law firm that brought the case to court is now going to the second instance and is still demanding to make the border crossing accessible, reports  Kisalföld.

As Hungary Today reported earlier, the law firm NZP Nagy Legal has sued the municipality of Schattendorf, because in their opinion, the closure of the border crossing between Austria and Hungary violates EU law. The first conflict at the Austro-Hungarian border crossing occurred last March when the Austrian municipality closed it for construction works. When it reopened in July, it was discovered that retractable posts and a pedestrian zone had been placed there and that driving through the crossing was only allowed with a permit. The permit, valid for two years, costs 160 euros.

“We do not agree with the first-instance ruling of the Eisenstadt Regional Court and are appealing,” explained Dr. Máté Ruzicska from the law firm to Kisalföld. “This is a civil lawsuit we started last summer against the Schattendorf municipality, because in one particular case we had to take a detour due to the closed border and we suffered damages. We would like to stress, however, that the lawsuit is not about money, not about the 27 euro cents, but about what we believe, as a law firm and personally, all of us:

that in the 21st century, there is no place for such a discriminatory, border-closing provision. We hope that this procedure will help to ensure that hard-working locals can freely cross the border and enjoy their basic rights,”

explained the lawyer.

Photo: Facebook/ORF Magyarok

In addition, administrative proceedings will soon be opened against the municipality of Schattendorf for what the law firm believes is discriminatory treatment of border crossing permits, writes the portal. So far, the municipality has received a total of 438 applications, 217 from Hungary and 221 from Austria.

Of the Hungarian applications, 33 have been approved, and 126 from Austria.

“The application for the crossing permits was launched in July 2023. Many people from Ágfalva submitted their applications at that time, but despite the fact that they were promised a fourteen-day deadline, they did not receive a reply,” said Zsuzsanna Pék, mayor of Ágfalva, outlining the current situation.

“In November, the applicants first received a request to fill in missing documents. Some of them had to pay an administration fee between 20-30 euros, but only those who asked for it were given an invoice. Submissions had to explain the grounds for the request for transit. In general, the reasons given could be related to going to work and maintaining family relations. However, the local authority did not receive detailed information from the mayor of the neighboring municipality on the conditions and criteria for the assessment of the application.

Approximately two hundred applications were submitted from Ágfalva, but to my knowledge only four have been granted permission, all of them with relatives living in Schattendorf.

Those who do not work in Schattendorf, but in one of the neighboring settlements, for instance, have not received the necessary documents for entry, however, those from Sopron who have a registered place of work have,” added Pék.

Brussels Joins the Border Dispute between Austria and Hungary
Brussels Joins the Border Dispute between Austria and Hungary

Complaints have reached the European Union after the unilateral Austrian closure of the border between Somfalva (Schattendorf, Austria) and Ágfalva.Continue reading

“When the idea of the border crossing was first mooted, the mayor of Schattendorf promised that the permanent residents of Schattendorf and Ágfalva would receive the border crossing permit, but he has not kept his word. After this, we should consider if we even want to cooperate with the Austrians in any joint project in the future.

The road was also built with EU money as part of a joint Austrian-Hungarian project, but free passage was only maintained for as long as it was compulsory- five years.

After that, a time limit has been introduced, and now a barrier has been built,” the Mayor of Ágfalva explained, stressing that they had done everything to maintain good neighborly relations. After the first negative decisions were issued, they asked the two municipalities to hold a joint council meeting to clarify the terms, but the Austrians rejected the proposal.

Pék also told Kisalföld that after the rejection, she had no choice but to inform the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of European Union Affairs, and the region’s MP. It was also decided that the municipality would review its affairs representing the interests of Schattendorf and would deal with them in a similar way to the Austrian approach. One concrete example he mentioned was the recent initiative of the Hungarian-Austrian water committee to set up a fish passage on the Ikva Stream.

The Price of Schengen: Austrian Municipality Introduces Border Crossing Fee
The Price of Schengen: Austrian Municipality Introduces Border Crossing Fee

The conflict over the border crossing between Schattendorf and Ágfalva is not subsiding. Demonstrators protested while the mayors presented their plans.Continue reading

Via Kisalföld.hu, Featured image: Ungarn Heute

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