The Hungarian Ombudsman has called on his Austrian counterpart to find a solution to the problem of the use of the road between Ágfalva in Hungary and Schattendorf (Somfalva) in Austria, which is of concern to the citizens of both countries. Ákos Kozma wrote a letter to Gaby Schwarz, the head of the Austrian ombudsman body, informed MTI.
This followed a complaint by Hungarian citizens to the Fundamental Rights Commissioner about the closure of the road between Schattendorf and Ágfalva. They complained that the Austrian municipality had closed the road connecting the village to Ágfalva on the Hungarian side of the border, which was co-financed by the European Union, first in the morning and in the evening of January 2023, thus preventing Hungarian residents working in Austria from travelling to work by car. Then, from 1 March 2023, it closed the road completely, citing road construction works.
Fact The border crossing between Schattendorf and Ágfalva can be used only with a permit since 3 July. The permit, valid for two years, costs 160 euros. About 140 euros of this will be reimbursed in the form of vouchers that can be redeemed in Schattendorf. Besides this, there are also problems at the Fertőrákos – St. Margarethen (Szentmargitbánya) border crossing, while the issues at the Rajka – Deutsch Jahrndorf border have been recently resolved.
According to the decision of Schattendorf, after 1 July 2023, the use of the road is only allowed upon request and subject to a special assessment, and a predetermined fee has also been introduced.
As the measures restricting the entry of Hungarian citizens into Austria risk violating the EU’s fundamental right to free movement of persons and labor, Hungarian ombudsman Ákos Kozma asked his Austrian colleague Gaby Schwarz whether, when and with what content the Austrian Ombudsman’s Office had launched an investigation into the measures already introduced by Schattendorf.
If the Austrian authority had not yet started a procedure, the Hungarian side will initiate an inquiry with the Austrian Ombudsman.
As our sister site, Ungarn Heute reported earlier, a Hungarian complained back in March about the construction of a pedestrian zone on the border between Schattendorf and Ágfalva. The Ombudsman informed the mayor of the municipality, Thomas Hoffmann (SPÖ), and Gaby Schwarz’s office has asked the mayor to comment on the allegations. Thomas Hoffmann reacted to the letter from the Ombudsman’s Office in a party-political manner: “I have no words to explain why an ÖVP Ombudsman is opposed to the interests of road safety in the Burgenland communities”. His official statement was not made available to the press.
Featured photo via Ungarn Heute