Both Germany and Italy hit out Austria’s move to raise a 250-meter anti-refugee barrier across road links with Italy at the Brenner Pass border crossing in the Alps.
After a Thursday meeting in Rome, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said that the decision of the Austrian government to erect a barrier at Austria’s Alpine border with Italy is “unjustified.”
“We expressed our total opposition to, and, in some ways, our shock over the position that has been taken by our Austrian friends,” said Renzi at a joint press conference with Merkel describing Austria’s plan as “anachronistic.”
The German Chancellor added that she “will do all that is possible so that problems are solved in ways other than through border closures.” Merkel stressed that “Europe must defend the Schengen Agreement or risk falling back into separate nationalism,” underlining once again that “the very future of Europe is at stake.”
“Europe must demonstrate it is a valid force in the world,” Merkel highlighted and added that “with regards to the migrant emergency, (Europe) must come up with ways to solve problems other than shutting down borders. We cannot shut down the borders – we must remain loyal to one another.” The German Chancellor urged the European leaders to protect the EU borders saying that the Union must protect its borders “from the Mediterranean to the North Pole.”
After the meeting between the two leaders, it was reported by the Italian news agency ANSA that Italy and Germany agree on the asylum seeker emergency and on Italy’s proposed Migration Compact but disagree on how to fund the mechanism.
According to the Local Austria, Italy is pushing for NATO naval patrols off Libya and a deal with Libya on a model similar with the one concluded between the EU and Turkey. Moreover, Renzi wants from the EU to make a new “strategy for Africa” to stem the influx from there. The Italian premier wants the EU aid to Africa to be focused on investments, which will lead in poverty reduction and reduce the refugee influx. However, Germany is against the use of eurobonds as an EU aid to Africa.