Austria spends 1.1 million euros on securing Alpine border crossing

Austria will spend 1.1 million euros (1.2 million dollars) on planned measures to stop asylum seekers at the border with Italy, Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner said Thursday.

Workers have started building infrastructure for border controls at the Brenner mountain pass this week, and Mikl-Leitner said this work would be completed by the end of May.

Italy has criticized Vienna's plan to introduce strict border checks at the Brenner, as it lies along a main European transport route and could become a bottleneck for cargo haulers.

Mikl-Leitner said in parliament that it was up to Italy to stop Austria from controlling the border, by setting up effective hot spots for arriving migrants and by preventing them to travel on.

It looked like many refugees would opt to cross the central Mediterranean to Italy because the route across the Balkan has been closed down, the minister told a parliamentary committee, according to the parliamentary news service.

Austrian Defence Minister Hans Peter Doskozil had warned Wednesday that Austria may request Rome to let Austrian police operate on Italian territory as an additional step, in case the inflow of migrants from Italy becomes too big.

A defence ministry spokesman clarified on Thursday that bilateral agreements on binational controls in designated zones had been in place before Europe's borderless Schengen rules had come into effect.

"An agreement with Italy would of course be necessary to introduce these controls again," he told dpa.

In Brussels the European Commmission on Thursday received a letter from Italian Interior Minister Angelo Alfano, who has said he wants the EU executive to verify whether Austria is complying the Schengen rules.

Last update: Fri, 24/06/2016 - 08:49

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