~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~'Killing Europe': German Media Slams Austrian Plan to Close Alpine Pass
Sputnik international, le 4 Mai 2016
Titre et inter-titre E Gaillot pour €calypse News, le 4 Mai 2016
Italy and Austria have clinched a last-minute deal to avoid closing the Brenner Pass in the Alps, the heavily trafficked mountain pass between two countries.
The agreement came a day after the Austrian side announced plans to erect a 370-meter fence along with three checkpoints for fear of migrants using the crossing to enter into Austria.
There are also fears in Italy that the fence could disrupt cross-border trade.
The 1.4-kilometer-long Brenner Pass connects Italy with its main trading partner Germany, and an average of 2,500 trucks and 15,000 cars travel through it everyday.
Prime Minister Renzi slammed Vienna for the proposal, saying that the closing of the pass would be a "flagrant breach of European rules" and "utterly removed from reality." He added, however, that Italy would step up checkups on highways and railways leading to Brenner.
Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka defended the plan arguing that Vienna is not breaking any EU freedom of movement laws.
"Seeing as there is no European plan, we have to prepare to take measures," Sobotka said.
Austria is concerned that migrants will turn to Italy as a gateway to Europe after it closed the Western Balkan corridor.
Meanwhile, Vienna's plan rang loud alarm bells in Germany with local media predicting the demise of Europe if the Brenner Pass is closed.
Announcing its intention to reinstate border controls with Italy, Austria said that it expected cooperation from Rome and warned about the danger of unauthorized border crossings by migrants seeking asylum in Europe.
The plan incensed Italian politicians, with Italy's Interior Minister Angelino Alfano calling it "a waste of money."
The German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung warned that the proposed fence would be a harbinger of a European breakup. "[Brenner] is more than just a mountain pass. The people of South Tyrol welcomed the lifting of a border controls with the rest of the region as a reconciliatory measure. Now they are going to take a step back <…> Italians say that Europe will die if Brenner is closed. It may sound as an overstatement, but essentially it's true," the newspaper wrote.
South Tyrol, also known by its alternative Italian name Alto Adige, is an autonomous province in northern Italy. It is one of the two autonomous provinces that make up the autonomous region of Trentino-Alto Adige. The province as it exists today was created in 1926 after an administrative reorganization of the Kingdom of Italy, and was incorporated together with the province of Trento into the newly created region of Venezia Tridentina.
Although there has been a sharp fall in the number of refugees crossing into Austria following the sealing of the Balkan migrant route, there are fears that greater numbers of asylum seekers will look to cross the Mediterranean Sea to land in Italy.
More than 350,000 people have managed to reach Italy by boat from Libya since early 2014. Austria received around 90,000 asylum applications in 2015, which was the second highest per capita out of countries in the EU.