izbjeglice-migranti.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Ivo LUČIĆ/ ik

Germany could end border controls as early as May 12 if the number of migrant arrivals stays at current levels, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said.

"We are reducing the intensity of controls and withdrawing police step by step," de Maiziere told Austrian broadcaster ORF late Tuesday. "If the numbers remain as low, we will not extend border controls past May 12."

The controls at the Austrian border were introduced in September when as many as 10,000 migrants were arriving in Germany each day.

But border closures in the European countries that make up the Western Balkan route - including Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia - have caused the influx into Germany to dwindle.

Some 5,280 people arrived through the southern state of Bavaria's border to Austria in March, down 93 per cent from the 74,677 people that arrived in January.

Germany registered a total of 2 million refugees in 2015, with 870,000 of them moving on to other countries. This resulted in net migration of 1.1 million people in 2015, the largest influx since World War II.

Domestic critics of Chancellor Angela Merkel have pushed for unilateral measures to control the influx, such as tighter border controls and a cap on the number of arrivals.

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