LUCERNE, Switzerland (Reuters) - Austria does not need to implement an emergency cap on asylum seekers at the moment because the number of refugees entering the country has waned, Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said on Monday.
Sobotka was a vocal champion of the introduction this year of a cap of 37,500 asylum seekers coming into Austria, which was one of the main recipients of a mass wave of migrants last year.
"At the moment we have a declining (number of people) springing up and being detained so we don't see the need at the moment to put the emergency decree into gear," he told a Swiss panel discussion on labor markets and immigration.
"We just wanted to have finished negotiating it. You don't buy a fire engine when the blaze has broken out," he added.
The flow of migrants into Austria has slowed since last year's surge, in which hundreds of thousands of people, many fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, headed through the Balkans and toward Germany.
Neighboring Hungary has since built a fence along its border with Serbia, and Balkan countries have introduced border restrictions of their own, in coordination with Austria, largely shutting down that route into the heart of Europe.
After last year's influx, in which Austria took in about 90,000 asylum seekers, more than 1 percent of its population, the government said it would only let 37,500 people apply for asylum this year.
Around 30,000 applications had been filed so far.
Austria built a 4 km barrier with a managed entry point on its border with Slovenia when the flow of migrants shifted toward that frontier, and it has said it will erect one at the Brenner crossing with Italy if needed.
(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)