Nigel Farage has slammed the EU’s approach to the Mediterranean immigrant crisis, saying its common asylum policy will do nothing to stop the threat of Islamic extremists who have threatened to sail to Europe in their tens of thousands.
Speaking at an extraordinary meeting of MEPs in Strasbourg today, the UKIP leader said that the EU must listen to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s advice on how to deal with the boatloads of asylum seekers who are trying to cross EU maritime borders.
Farage faced accusations from Dutch Liberal MEP Sophie In’t Velt that it was Europe who was exporting terrorism and he and his party were using the politics of fear rather than addressing the concerns of the electorate.
But in his response Farage told Sophia In’t Velt that “77 per cent of the British population say that immigration at its current rates is unsustainable.”
The veteran MEP said there was a “real and genuine threat” from Islamic extremists which the EU’s strategy would not counter.
“When ISIS say they want to flood our continent with half a million Islamic extremists they mean it, and there is nothing in this document [Common European Asylum Policy] that will stop them.
“I fear we face a direct threat to our civilisation if we allow large numbers of people from that war torn region into Europe.”
And he highlighted how the Australians, with their policy of not rescuing boats full of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants, had actually led to fewer people drowning as illegal immigrants no longer risked making that journey. The robust action has also driven people smugglers out of business in Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Indonesia while their boats have been sunk at sea with Australian naval gunfire.
Addressing a quiet chamber, which is normally full when there is a debate with the Council of Ministers and the European Commission, he said that both the UK Parliament and the European Parliament had made a huge mistake by being so “desperate to go to war”.
“Now we have a failed state of Libya which is now a conduit being used by criminal trafficking gangs bringing people to Europe. We are directly guilty for the drownings.”
The candidate for South Thanet caused outrage in the chamber by branding European politicians and officials “hypocrites” who were directly responsible for the poverty suffered by millions in developing countries through the Common Agricultural Policy, the Common Fisheries Policy and barriers to trade.
“I am not blind to the human suffering we have caused in many of these countries” he said, calling on the Commission to end barriers to trade. “But the real question is, are we going to go down the Australian system in dealing with the [migration] crisis?
“They stopped the boats from coming, they’ve stopped the people from drowning,” he told fellow MEPs who had been calling for an open door to all asylum seekers and millions given in aid to rescue the traffickers’ boats in the Mediterranean.”
Instead, he said, “We have decided that people can come and people won’t be sent back.”
“It will be a hell of a shock for European citizens and people in Britain to understand that we’ve already agreed a common European asylum system,” he said, waving a copy of the document, explaining, “the debate today is about the direct implementation of it.”
In his statement to MEPs, the Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that the criteria for people who could count as asylum seekers wouldn’t just be those fleeing war as laid out in the UN conventions, but also those “fleeing poverty”.
Mr Juncker had earlier said that one strategy taken by the EU in dealing with asylum seekers and people traffickers would be to send in EU border police to African countries, extending the control of the political bloc to the northern shores of the continent.