Austria sparked consternation in Rome on Tuesday with preliminary construction work at the Brenner pass in the Alps to prepare for a possible new influx of migrants coming north from Italy.
A police spokesman in Tyrol state told AFP that work started Tuesday on concrete foundations for a planned control area in a lay-by off the northbound motorway at the border.
“What is however not being built are additional border management elements, in other words a fence. There is no time frame for when that will happen,” Stefan Eder said.
Vienna is concerned that following the closure earlier this year of the Balkan trail from Greece towards Austria, a new route across the sea from Libya to Italy and then northwards will open up.
Austria’s government, which wants to slash numbers claiming asylum in the country this year to 37,500 from last year’s 90,000, says it is planning additional measures at several border crossings from June 1.