Migration may help ‘dissolve’ the European Union due to deep differences between member states, the bloc’s top diplomat warns
- Diplomat Josep Borrell says EU states have not agreed strategy for migration
Migration could help to ‘dissolve’ the European Union due to deep differences between member states, the bloc’s top diplomat has warned.
Josep Borrell said member states had failed to agree a common policy to deal with the issue, with some countries wanting ‘purity’ and rejecting migrants while others welcomed them.
Mr Borrell, the EU’s external affairs commissioner, warned that it was a greater problem for the EU than Brexit.
It comes amid the ongoing row in Britain about the small boats crisis in the Channel and a surge in the number of people crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa to Italy.
Mr Borrell told the Guardian: ‘Migration is a bigger divide for the European Union. And it could be a dissolving force for the European Union.’
Despite the EU establishing a shared common external border, ‘we have not been able until now to agree on a common migration policy’, he added.
Diplomat Josep Borrell (pictured) said EU member states had failed to agree a common policy to deal with migration, with some countries wanting ‘purity’ and rejecting migrants while others welcomed them
He attributed this to deep cultural and political differences inside the EU, saying: ‘There are some members of the European Union that are Japanese-style – “we don’t want to mix. We don’t want migrants. We don’t want to accept people from outside. We want our purity”.’
He noted that other countries, such as Spain, have a long history of accepting migrants, adding: ‘The paradox is that Europe needs migrants because we have so low demographic growth. If we want to survive from a labour point of view, we need migrants.’
Mr Borrell said he believed Russia would try to fan the flames on migration inside Europe, but denied that the war in Ukraine was contributing to the crisis.
His comments follow Italy’s anti-immigration prime minister Giorgia Meloni saying that she would not allow her country to become ‘Europe’s refugee camp’ after 11,000 people arrived on the island of Lampedusa in a matter of days recently.
Mr Borrell said nationalism was on the rise in Europe, but insisted this was more about migration than Euroscepticism.
‘Brexit actually was feared to be an epidemic. And it has not been,’ he said. ‘It has been a vaccine. No one wants to follow the British leaving the European Union.’
He insisted that the war in Ukraine was not fuelling the current rows over migration, saying: ‘The issue is that migration pressure has been increasing, mainly due to wars – not the war against Ukraine…
‘It is the Syrian war, the Libyan war, the military coups in Sahel [a region in North Africa].
‘We are living in a circle of instability from Gibraltar to the Caucasus, and this happened before the Ukrainian war and will continue after the Ukrainian war.
‘Migration in Africa is not being caused by the war against Ukraine. The root causes of migration in Africa are lack of development, economic growth and bad governance.’
It comes amid the ongoing row in Britain about the small boats crisis in the Channel and a surge in the number of people crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa to Italy (file photo)
He said European efforts to cooperate with some African countries had been made more difficult by the existence of military-controlled regimes.
He described the Wagner Group, a Russian mercenary outfit, as ‘the praetorian guard of the African dictators’.
Asked if he believed Russia would try to weaponise the issue of migration, Mr Borrell said: ‘Putin will try everything.’
He added: ‘Putin believes that democracies are weak, fragile, they get tired and time is running on his side, because sooner or later, we will get exhausted. And this is a political battle as much as a military battle.
‘It has to be explained with arguments. Certainly nobody likes to pay more for the electricity bills. I believe in democracy as a pedagogical exercise, and I believe that people understand the reasons.’
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