Vienna attack: Italy proposes EU adopt US-style police powers

Italy's foreign minister on Tuesday said the European Union should consider a US-style Patriot Act to boost anti-terrorism efforts, in the wake of attacks in Vienna and Nice.

Vienna attack: Italy proposes EU adopt US-style police powers
Police perform a check at the Austrian-Italian border. Image: Johann GRODER / APA / AFP

In a statement posted on social media, Luigi Di Maio said both the EU and Italy must raise their security levels, called for tighter controls on mosques in his country, and for action on illegal migration.

But he said it was also time “to start to think about something bigger and that concerns the whole of the EU — a Patriot Act on the American model, for example, because today we are all children of the same European people”.

“The security of one state equals the security of all the others. I will also discuss this with my counterparts in the coming days,” he said.

READ MORE: Germany steps up checks at Austria border after Vienna attack 

The Patriot Act was introduced in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, and gave law enforcement agencies sweeping counter-terrorism powers, including of surveillance.

Citing the Nice and Vienna attacks, Di Maio said: “It is clear that in the face of all of this, Europe and Italy itself cannot continue with just words.”

READ MORE: Italy condemns 'cowardly' knife attack in French city of Nice

Austria on Tuesday began three days of mourning after a gunman, said by authorities to be a supporter of the Islamic State group, went on a rampage across Vienna, killing four people.

It came just days after three people were killed in a knife rampage in a church in the French city of Nice last Thursday, blamed on an Islamist Tunisian recently arrived in Europe.

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Austria steps up anti-migrant patrols at Italian border

Austria has sent 50 extra police officers to its border with Italy to check passing vehicles in a bid to stop migrants from crossing over.

Austria steps up anti-migrant patrols at Italian border
The Brenner crossing point. Photo: The Local Italy

The move, which sees the officers carrying out checks on the motorway and on trains at the Brenner pass crossing, comes less than two weeks after Austria said it would no longer re-impose controls at the pass after tougher measures from Rome led to a huge drop in migrant numbers.

A police chief in Tirol told Ansa that the move “is not about checkpoints or border controls” but is intended to “contain the number of people who enter Austria illegally”.

The officers have been deployed near the Schönberg motorway toll booth, about 30 kilometres from the border, and on the road that runs between the town of Gries am Brenner and Innsbruck.

In total, 80 officers are patrolling the area.

Meanwhile, Italy earlier this month deployed 110 extra guards to patrol the Brenner pass crossing point between the two countries, prompted by Austria's threats, including building a fence, to tighten anti-migrant measures if Italy failed to reduce the number of new arrivals heading to Austria.

Austria has been concerned that it could also become a new route for migrants and refugees following the closure of the Balkan trail leading from Greece towards western and northern Europe.