Austria Builds Barriers: Brenner Pass Closed for Migrants


Brenner Pass soon closed for Migrants, as Austria has begun building an anti-migrant barrier at the Italian border.

Austria has begun building a barrier on the border with Italy in order to limit migrants ‘ access through the Brenner Pass, said the chief of the Tyrolean Police, Helmut Tomac.

“Controls are supposed to start in late may, but it will be up to the Interior Ministry in Vienna to decide when they will actually begin, said Helmut Tomas. He also guaranteed that cooperation with the Italian colleagues will be established as good as possible.

However the barrier  is not meant to stop people from getting in, added Tomac, who is overseeing the building work.

“The fence is not there to close the doors to Austria, but to make it possible to securely control entry,” the Austrian newspaper Kurier reported.


How the barrier will be ?

The barrier will be 250 metres long and it will include the major road and motorway towards Austria.

Crash barriers of the motorway and main road have already been disassembled in order to make way for the barrier and road signs are set to be changed.
In the next few days a reception centre will also set up.

A parking lot just inside Austria will be used in order to carry out traffic checks.


Austria’s Border management

Austria’s plans to manage the entrance at the Italian border were announced long ago, after the access for migrants to Spielfeld, on the border with Slovenia, was restricted by fences.

Following the closure of the so-called ‘Balkan route’ earlier this year, the Austrian Government fears to be overwhelmed by increasing waves of migrants arriving from Italy. So far at least, these fears have been unfounded.

Nevertheless, migrants sea arrivals are increasing in Italy. Yesterday 1850 migrants were rescued in the Strait of Sicily, while in Greece the arrivals were just 18, reported Italian newspaper Il Piccolo.

 Read “New Group of Migrants Transferred to Turkey amid Resistance” for more information on the ongoing situation of migrants in Greece.

A move to safeguard the Schengen principles or rather Austria’s Presidency?

The building of the barrier follows a meeting between Italy’s Interior Minister, Angelino Alfano and the then Austrian Interior Minister, Johanna Mikl-Leitner in Rome on Friday, where they expressed their wish to work together at the border  in order to “safeguard the Schengen principles.”

The Austrian President Heinz Fischer  quickly pointed out that the barrier at the Brenner Pass is not a wall or barbed wire fence. He also ensured that this measure will impact on persons and goods transit as least as possible.  Nevertheless he warned that “more controls for those who want to enter Europe are needed.”

The Austrian Government’s move comes amid a pre-election period, as Austrian citizens are called to vote on next 24 April  to elect the new President, and the question of migrants is foremost.

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