Chancellor Werner Faymann
Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann has proposed a cap on refugee numbers Reuters

Austria is set to cap the number of refugees the country will take in, announcing plans to reduce its current number of migrants by half.

It is a change of tack for social democrat Chancellor Werner Faymann, who over January has announced a crackdown on economic migrants as well as the new cap on refugee numbers – a far cry from the 'open door' policy he subscribed to in 2014.

His turnabout in policy will see Austria taking in just 37,500 refugees in 2016, a huge drop from the 90,000 people who claimed asylum in the country during 2015, DW reported. And the limited numbers policy is intended to last for four years, meaning the country will accept just 150,000 refugees before 2020.

A record 1 million people arrived in Europe from across Asia, Africa and the Middle East in 2015, with some European governments becoming skittish about the number of people they would be able to accommodate, particularly as the Syrian refugee crisis escalated.

However governments in Austria and neighbouring Germany welcomed refugees with no clear limit on numbers – positions both countries are now re-examining, with German chancellor Angela Merkel currently under fire from within her own party over her liberal refugee policy.