In a thinly-veiled attack on U.S. President Donald J. Trump, the European Union Commissioner Federica Mogherini has reiterated the bloc’s commitment to welcoming migrants, saying “we celebrate when walls are broken down and bridges are built”.
Addressing the press corps in Brussels this week, Mogherini insisted that EU member states will continue welcoming migrants, investing in their future, and working with other nations to manage the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean Sea.
“The European Union strongly believes in a system that is based on international rules and norms, full respect of all individuals, regardless of their religion, of their ethnic background or their country or nationality or gender and we will continue to be this way,” she said, following a meeting with Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende.
She continued: “We have in Europe a history – and here I think I do not speak only for the European Union – that has told us that every time that one invests in divisions and wars, you might end up being in a prison, if you build all walls around you.
“And we have a history and a tradition and an identity based on the fact that we celebrate when walls are broken down and bridges are built. We believe in cooperation, and the European Union will continue to work in a sense of cooperation and respect with all the countries of the region, regardless of the religion of their population – all of them. This is the European Union’s way, I am convinced this is also the European way.”
The press briefing comes amid widespread criticism of President Trump’s policies on immigration, including the mislabelling of a temporary suspension on travel from seven countries deemed security risks to the U.S. as a “Muslim ban”.
Days earlier, protesters across the world marked the president’s inauguration by hanging banners from bridges proclaiming “Build Bridges Not Walls”, a reference to President Trump’s policy to build a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
So far, the EU has made available more than €9 billion of European taxpayers’ money to countries neighbouring Syria to help with their refugee programmes.
Mogherini defended the spending as an investment, saying: “For us, it is an investment first of all in their lives, but also in our own security, because any single day that a Syrian child is out of school exposes him or her to a future that is definitely not a future of commitment and engagement in the way we would like to see.”