It comes as people smugglers start using alternative routes into Europe following the closure of eastern European routes.
Germany’s interior minister Thomas de Maiziere threatened to close Italy’s border with Austria if Rome starts sending migrants north.
With the migrant route through the Balkans from Greece closed, migrants are instead crossing the Mediterranean from North African countries such as Libya and arriving in Italy.
Neighbouring Austria, which hundreds of thousands of migrants crossed through last year to reach Germany, is now preparing for the arrival of yet more migrants from Italy.
Vienna has said it is preparing to introduce tighter border controls if necessary at the Brenner crossing – an important gateway for goods flowing between Italy and northern European countries such as Germany.
Mr De Maiziere said during an interview on Austrian television: “Italy cannot depend on Brenner always staying open”, adding that Rome could not “as in the past simply guide people north”.
The Austrian government has said tighter controls, such as vehicle checks and crowd-control measures, including barriers and a fence like those at its main crossing with Slovenia, will be introduced at Brenner if the number of arrivals requires it.
The move comes after demonstrations by pro-migrant protestors about border restrictions at the Brenner Pass turned violent, with some hurling stones and flares at Austrian police.
Mr De Maiziere said: “We hope it will not be necessary to decide on such matters.
“That is assuming that the numbers coming to Italy are not too high. That is assuming that Italy fulfils its obligations.”