Austria plans Italian border fence to control migrant flow

Matteo Renzi says Brenner Pass restrictions would be illogical and against EU rules

 Riot police clash with protesters during a rally against the Austrian government’s planned re-introduction of border controls at the Brenner Pass, Austria. Photograph: Jan Hetfleisch/EPA

Riot police clash with protesters during a rally against the Austrian government’s planned re-introduction of border controls at the Brenner Pass, Austria. Photograph: Jan Hetfleisch/EPA

 

Austria plans to build a fence at the border with Italy as part of its preparations for controls to be introduced if a surge in migrant arrivals materialises, Austrian media quoted police as saying on Wednesday.

Rome has said border restrictions at the important Brenner Pass transport link would be unjustified given the small number of migrants arriving there, but Austria says it expects a wave of migrants to head north soon.

Italy’s prime minister Matteo Renzi denounced the plans, saying it was “shamelessly against European rules, as well as being against history, against logic and against the future”.

The Brenner Pass is the busiest route through the Alps and any controls there, if introduced, will slow traffic on Italy’s main transport link to Germany, its top trading partner.

Outlining Austria’s plans for the Brenner Pass, for which building work began two weeks ago, the police chief of the province of Tyrol told reporters they included a 400m fence, the Tiroler Tageszeitung newspaper reported.

Whether the fence is built will depend on Italy’s willingness to cooperate, the police chief, Helmut Tomac, told reporters at a news conference, the paper said on its website.

Checkpoints

The plans include installing three checkpoints on the motorway running through Brenner, news agency APA said, citing police officials.

A spokesman for Tyrol’s police said he could not immediately confirm the reports.

Reuters