Italy and Germany expressed their concerns on Thursday over Austria’s plans to present new border controls by constructing a 250-metre (820-foot) fence at the Brenner Pass connecting Austria and Italy.
After a joint press conference between the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, they both made it clear that they strongly oppose this new measure.
"We expressed our total opposition to, and, in some ways, our shock over the position that has been taken by our Austrian friends," Renzi said during the news conference that took place in Rome.
“We have expressed our clear disagreement with the Austrian positions on the Brenner Pass. They are wrong and anachronistic,” Renzi added.
“I am strongly against any closure,” Merkel said after fears of a lack of freedom within the 28-country bloc was expressed by both sides. “We can’t abandon whoever defends our borders. We need to remain loyal to each other,” she added.
The German Chancellor also warned that the free movement of goods within the bloc could also be threatened by Austria’s decision.
“We either defend our [EU] external borders or we will return to nationalism and lose our freedom of movement of businesses and people,” Merkel said.
Last month the Italian PM had said that Austria’s plan to change the refugees’ route is “shamelessly against European rules, as well as being against history, against logic and against the future."
The European Union had also expressed its deep concern about Austria introducing new border controls saying it is "very concerned,” when Austria gave the first clues of its plan as the country fears a possible refugee influx heading north.
Refugees are running out of route choices as Austria is not the only country to introduce such measures.
Macedonia has closed its border "completely" to refugees and Hungary said it will increase border security with more troops.
Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia also said that they would place new restrictions on the entry of refugees, putting extra obstacles in the way of those trying to reach the European Union via the Balkans.