Italian PM Renzi: Austria’s refugee plan is ‘shameless’

Italian Prime Minister Renzi says Austria’s plan to stem off the flow of refugees is ‘shameless.’

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi delivers his remarks during the signing ceremony on climate change held at the United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan, New York, US, April 22, 2016.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Wednesday denounced plans by Austria to curb refugee flow by tightening border controls at the Alpine Brenner Pass between the two countries.

The Austria plan was "shamelessly against European rules, as well as being against history, against logic and against the future," Renzi said in a statement posted on his website.

He cited figures showing that the number of refugees reaching Italy via the Mediterranean this year were no higher than in 2015 and 2014, and argued that this showed alarm over immigration was "exaggerated."

Austria is considering building a 400-metre border fence, on which building work began two weeks ago, at the Brenner crossing, the police chief for the province of Tyrol, Austrian media quoted police as saying on Wednesday.

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

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.

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.

The plan includes installing three checkpoints on the motorway running through Brenner, local media reported, citing police officials including Tomac.

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

TRTWorld, Reuters