- Austria passes tough new asylum laws
- Reported plans for a fence at Brenner Pass
- Restrictions ‘not justified’ – Italy
- Some say vote has political aspect
What is happening?
The Austrian parliament has passed controversial legislation paving the way for tougher measures on asylum.
It includes, for example, an accelerated process for assessing potential asylum claims under which migrants could be turned away at the border.
Asylum will only be granted to people who are likely to be persecuted if they are sent back to their country of origin.
Refugees who already have close family living in Austria would also be allowed to remain.
Parliament would have to confirm that public order and security are under threat for the measures to be implemented.
What is happening at the Brenner Pass?
Media reports suggest Austria is planning to build a fence at the border with Italy.
Work on the barrier will form part of Vienna’s preparations for controls to be introduced if a predicted surge in migrant numbers materialises.
Austrian officials say they expect a wave of migrants to head north soon.
Is Italy happy about this?
Rome says border restrictions at the Brenner Pass north-south transport link are not justified, given the small number of migrants arriving there.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi says the plans are “shamelessly against European rules, as well as being against history, against logic and against the future.”
Additionally, the Brenner Pass is the busiest route through the Alps.
It is Italy’s main transport link to Germany, its top trading partner. Controls will slow down traffic and could impact on trade.
What are the reported plans?
- A 400 metre-long fence at the border
- Three checkpoints on the motorway
(Sources: Tiroler Tageszeitung, APA)
Why has Austria suddenly toughened its stance against migrants?
Opinion is divided.
Some say it is in response to a predicted surge of migrants arriving from Italy via the central Mediterranean route.
Others think there is a political aspect to the vote.
The Austrian parliament passed the new legislation just days after a far-right party came top in the first round of the country’s presidential election.