The Latest: Merkel warns against more border closures

ROME (AP) — The Latest on Europe’s response to the wave of migration from the Middle East and elsewhere (all times local):

4.45 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is warning that Europe risks succumbing to nationalism by closing borders as a solution to the migrant crisis.

Austria has said it will close the key Brenner crossing with Italy if necessary to stop the flow of asylum-seekers and other migrants northward, after they are rescued from smugglers’ boats off Italy’s coast.

Italian Premier Matteo Renzi, after holding talks in Rome with Merkel Thursday, described Austria’s strategy as “mistaken,” ”anachronistic” and “unjustified.”

Merkel told reporters the migrant crisis must be resolved “in a way different from closing borders.”

She added: “We can’t close borders … We must be loyal to each other.”

Merkel says EU nations must defend the Schengen border-free travel agreement or “else we risk falling back into nationalism.”


1:10 p.m.

A top aide to Italian Premier Matteo Renzi says Rome supports a proposal by the European Union’s executive to fine nations for refusing migrants they were supposed to accept.

Fewer than 600 of 40,000 asylum-seekers who were supposed to be relocated from Italy to other EU countries have been transferred since October.

On Thursday, the European Commission proposed that countries refusing to accept migrants should face fines of 250,000 euros ($287,000) per person rejected.

Undersecretary for European Affairs Sandro Gozi said Thursday that Italy backs the proposal.

He says it’s “unacceptable” some didn’t honor their obligation to accept asylum-seekers who were supposed to be relocated from Italy, Greece and Hungary.