Berlin joins Vienna to press Italy on migrant mass influx

MIGRATION TALKS: German Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maiziere, right, and his new Austrian counterpart Wolfgang Sobotka during a press conference in Potsdam, Germany, on Friday. (AP)
Updated 29 April 2016

Berlin joins Vienna to press Italy on migrant mass influx

BERLIN: Germany’s interior minister on Friday put the onus on Italy to halt a new mass influx of migrants to northern Europe, lending backing to Austria in a row with Rome.
“We share Austria’s position that there should not be a repeat of what happened along the Balkan route last autumn on the road from the Italian border northwards,” said Thomas de Maiziere after a meeting with his Austrian counterpart Wolfgang Sobotka.
“We have said we want to reduce the numbers of refugees sustainably, above all at the external borders, and a policy of simply waving people through would only spur more from outside the EU to come to Europe,” said the German interior minister.
“What is happening in Brenner depends above all on the Italians,” added de Maiziere, referring to the Austrian border pass with Italy which Vienna is looking at fencing off in order to halt mass arrivals of migrants and refugees.
De Maiziere’s backing came a day after Italy angrily told Austria that it was “wasting money” on anti-migrant measures and that closing the border between the two countries would be “an enormous mistake.”
But Germany put the ball in Italy’s court.
“Italy is aware of how serious the situation is, it knows that Italy must, should and will take action to ensure that Schengen remains open,” said de Maiziere, referring to Europe’s passport-free zone.
“That means, what it is at the moment is above all a task for Italy,” he said.
More than 350,000 people, many of them fleeing conflict and poverty in countries like Syria, Iraq and Eritrea, have reached Italy by boat from Libya since the start of 2014, as Europe battles its biggest migration crisis post-WWII.
Wedged between the Italian and Balkan routes to northern Europe, Austria received 90,000 asylum requests last year, the second highest in per capita terms of any EU country.
Legislation approved Wednesday by the Austrian Parliament enables the government to respond to spikes in migrant arrivals by declaring a state of emergency which provides for asylum seekers to be turned away at border points.
Some 250 police have been deployed at the Brenner Pass, a major transport link between southern and northern Europe with an average of 2,500 lorries and 15,000 cars using it every day.


UK to reopen thousands of shops in easing of coronavirus lockdown, says Boris Johnson

Updated 25 May 2020

UK to reopen thousands of shops in easing of coronavirus lockdown, says Boris Johnson

  • From June 1, outdoor markets and car showrooms could be reopened
  • Johnson is keen to restart an economy which has been all but shut down since Britain entered a lockdown

LONDON: Britain will reopen thousands of high street shops, department stores and shopping centers next month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday, setting out a timetable for businesses as part of moves to ease the coronavirus lockdown.
He told a news conference that from June 1, outdoor markets and car showrooms could be reopened as soon as they are able to meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines, and all other non-essential retail from June 15 if the government’s tests are met.
Johnson is keen to restart an economy which has been all but shut down since Britain entered a lockdown to try to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, but also fears a second peak of infection if measures are eased too quickly.

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“Today, I want to give the retail sector notice of our intentions to reopen shops, so they too can get ready,” Johnson said. “There are careful but deliberate steps on the road to rebuilding our country.”
The government said shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, and electronics, plus tailors, auction houses, photography studios, and indoor markets, would be expected to be able to reopen from June 15, giving them three weeks to prepare.
It said that businesses would only be able to open from those dates once they had completed a risk assessment, in consultation with trade union representatives or workers, and are confident they are managing the risks.
“The high street sits at the heart of every community in the country,” Business minister Alok Sharma said in a statement.
“Enabling these businesses to open will be a critical step on the road to rebuilding our economy, and will support millions of jobs across the UK.”