Reuters International

A refugee tries to withhold his tent from strong winds at a makeshift camp at the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of Idomeni, Greece, April 26, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis


ROME (Reuters) - Plans by Austria to curb migrant flows by building a fence at the Alpine Brenner Pass between the two countries are "unacceptable", Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said on Thursday.

Alfano said the plans were even more unjustified because the numbers of migrants passing from Italy to Austria were at their lowest levels for many years, adding that he would say so "very clearly" to his Austrian counterpart at a meeting in Rome later on Thursday.

"The logic of raising barriers is unacceptable," Alfano told Canale 5 in a television interview.

"I will tell him very clearly that unilateral decisions go against European rules," Alfano said when asked what message he would have for Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka.

Migrants fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa are crossing the Mediterranean to Italy in growing numbers and Austria has said Rome must stop them travelling on towards northern Europe.

Austria outlined plans on Wednesday to erect a 370 metre-long fence at the Brenner Pass, which is the busiest route through the Alps for heavy goods vehicles [nL5N17U5K5].

The Austrian parliament on the same day passed tough new asylum measures - including one under which migrants could be turned away at the border within an hour - that could be activated if lawmakers decided there was a threat to public order.

Any toughening of border controls at the Brenner Pass would slow traffic on an important route from Italy to Germany, Italy's top trading partner.

(Reporting by Gavin Jones, editing by Ed Osmond)


 Reuters International