Migrant crisis: Tension rises as Austria tightens its Italian border

Martin Geissler

Former ITV News Correspondent

Tensions are rising at the Austrian-Italian border Credit: ITV News

I'm standing tapping these words into my laptop on Italy's border with Austria.

I'll paint you a picture of the scene unfolding in front of me. It's not pretty.

A gang of protesters are hurling insults at long lines of burly riot cops. The police have pepper spray and water cannon at the ready in case things get out of hand.

They've blocked the demonstrators from marching across the border.

The "New Europe" with its open frontiers and its happy, neighbourly spirit is nowhere to be seen.

This little riot has its roots, rather predictably, in the migrant crisis. Italy is bracing itself for a flood of new arrivals in the Summer and Austria is preparing to shut its doors.

They're building a barrier on the borderline, which will enable them to block the main motorway and stop the flow of migrants heading north.

It's another blow to the Schengen agreement, which guarantees free movement across the continent.

Austria is just one of a number of countries prepared to roll out razor wire and riot cops to control who's coming in.

Right wing politics are on the rise here - one of the leaders of a far-right party looks set to be appointed as President after elections at the weekend.

So, it's a heady brew. Another influx of migrants is expected to land in the coming months, they'll arrive in a Europe that's growing increasingly fractious and unsympathetic.

It's impossible to predict where all this will take us, but it's hard to see it ending well.

Austria is building a barrier on the borderline with Italy Credit: ITV News

Watch Martin Geissler's full report on ITV News at Ten.