Austria should step up deportations of people who do not qualify for asylum, Chancellor Werner Faymann said in remarks published on Saturday, striking a tougher tone on migrants as he comes under pressure from his conservative coalition partners.

Hundreds of thousands of people, many of them fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East, Afghanistan and elsewhere, have entered Austria, the last country on the way to Germany, since early September.

Only a fraction of those people, swept up in Europe's worst migration crisis in decades, have applied for asylum in Austria rather than continue their journey into Germany, but the country has struggled to provide them with suitable accommodation.

"We cannot pretend that all refugees actually have grounds for asylum," he said in an interview with newspaper Oesterreich, extracts of which were released on Saturday ahead of publication in Sunday's edition. "Therefore we must intensify deportations."

The term refugee is often used in German to refer to migrants in general, whether or not they meet the criteria for asylum, such as having fled conflict or persecution.

Austria has received 85,000 asylum applications this year, an Interior Ministry spokesman said. Austria has said it expects roughly 95,000 applications this year, more than 1 percent of its population, compared with 28,000 registered in 2014.

Last year, 38 percent of applications were approved, the spokesman said.

Cabinet members from the conservative People's Party have said the country is reaching the limits of its capacity and that they hope new controls and crowd management measures at the border with Slovenia will discourage migrants.

The far-right Freedom Party, which is in opposition, has been gaining support by calling for measures such as building a fence around Austria to keep migrants out.

Faymann, a Social Democrat, has generally adopted a more compassionate tone on the issue than the conservatives but he has also emphasised that policy decisions have been closely coordinated with his German counterpart Angela Merkel.

At a congress of her conservative party this week, Merkel pledged to "noticeably reduce the number of refugees", fending off a challenge from critics of her own.

Oesterreich quoted Faymann as saying the situation would be "even more difficult" next year.

"At the moment there may be fewer refugees (arriving), but one should not confuse the winter with an improvement in the situation," Faymann was quoted as saying.

"Therefore we must prepare measures now so that we are not surprised in the spring," he added. The newspaper did not say what those measures were.

Germany and Austria are working on a proposal for a common European asylum law, Germany's refugee crisis coordinator said in a magazine interview published on Saturday.

($1 = 0.9206 euros)

(Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Digby Lidstone)

Latest news

Alphabet's self-driving car company sues Uber over alleged theft

Alphabet's self-driving car company Waymo said Thursday it was suing Uber and its subsidiary Otto for allegedly stealing its technology and infringing its patents.

US, Mexico take "important steps" even as Trump voices indifference

Top US and Mexican diplomatic and security officials met on Thursday in Mexico City, as President Donald Trump in Washington expressed ambivalence about relations with the United States' southern neighbour.

US Supreme Court's Ginsberg emphasizes value of free press

US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg expressed optimism about the political future of the United States despite the polarized and combative political atmosphere that has marked the fledgling presidency of Donald Trump.

Top Trump aide Bannon points to promises kept, media fight

Top White House strategist Steve Bannon said Thursday US President Donald Trump is keeping the promises he made during his campaign on issues from immigration to job creation.

Le Pen promises independent foreign policy, autonomous defence

Marine Le Pen promised Thursday that if elected president of France she would ensure it had a truly independent foreign policy as well as an autonomous capacity for self-defence.

Slovenia for ending lawsuits against Ljubljanska Banka

Croatia is infringing the memorandum of understanding signed with Slovenia in 2013 which they interpret differently, the Slovenian Embassy said on Thursday after a hearing at a Zagreb court in a suit which Croatia's PBZ bank filed against Slovenia's Ljubljanska Banka (LB) and Nova Ljubljanska Bank (NLB) over transferred foreign currency savings.

Marin Pucar appointed as new CEO in Podravka food concern

Marin Pucar is the new Management Board chairman of the Podravka food concern and will take the helm of the company after Zvonimir Mrsic's term expires at midnight on Thursday.

Croatian MEP says Moscow wants to influence in western Balkans

Croatian MEP Ivan Jakovcic said in an interview with the Montenegrin Pobjeda daily on Thursday that Moscow is trying to exploit the political forces in Montenegro and that Russia's meddling in Montenegro's internal affairs was "unacceptable behaviour."

New York Times launches brand campaign for 'The Truth' with Oscars ad

The New York Times is using Sunday's Academy Awards show to launch an advertising drive with an ad spot that capitalizes on President Donald Trump's confrontational relationship with the paper and other mainstream media.

Gambia charges former spy chief with murder of opposition leader

The former head of the Gambian national intelligence agency has been charged with the murder of an opposition youth leader who died in detention last year.

Dutch populist Wilders won't publicly campaign after security fiasco

The Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) won't make public appearances in support of its election campaign after a security official assigned to protect party founder Geert Wilders was detained by police.

Peace Implementation Council Steering Board calls for defusing tensions in Bosnia

The Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) met on Thursday, expressing the international community's concern about the situation in the country and calling on local politicians to act rationally to prevent an escalation of the crisis after a motion was submitted to review an International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling in BiH's case against Serbia for genocide.