Austria tries to calm Italian fears about border closure

Austria will try to avoid checks at the Italian border, Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner said Friday while on a visit in Rome, following Italian criticism about her plans to close a key mountain pass because of migration concerns.

"We will do everything we can to guarantee freedom of movement across the Brenner Pass," she said after meeting her Italian counterpart Angelino Alfano, according to Austrian broadcaster ORF.

The Brenner Pass is an Alpine border crossing between the two countries that lies across one of Europe's busiest transport routes.

At the same time, Mikl-Leitner demanded that Italy register each and every migrant at it reception hotspots.

If the numbers of people trying to travel north to Austria surged despite Italy's best efforts, Austria would be forced to step up its border controls at the Brenner Pass, the conservative minister said.

Italy's road haulage association Conftrasporto warned Thursday that this would create waiting times and economic losses worth 172 million euros per year for transport firms.

Ahead of her visit, Mikl-Leitner had questioned Rome's preparedness to deal with an expected shift in the main Mediterranean migration destination from Greece to Italy.

These comments had drawn criticism from Italian Secretary of State Filippo Bubbico, who said that his government did not owe Austria explanations when it comes to refugee policies.

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

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