The European Union’s (EU) migration chief has called on the leaders of Member States to forget about the political cost of accepting refugees. He has said they should take a leaf out of the Commission’s book and not worry about re-election. Unlike national politicians, Commissioners are appointed rather than elected to their roles. His comments have been slammed as “breath-taking arrogance” by eurosceptic campaigners.
As commissioner for migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, 62, is at the helm of the EU’s response to the migrant crisis currently sweeping across the continent. The Commission’s view is that migrants should be welcomed and relocated across the member states according to a quota system.
But the plan has proved unpopular with the leaders of the states themselves, under pressure from their public not to accept more migrants on top of the large numbers already coming. As some countries, notably Hungary, which has seen thousands of migrants cross it borders in recent weeks, continue to resist the scheme, fights have broken out between heads of state desperate to shift the blame.
Avramopoulos, himself a former Mayor of Athens and a former Greek Defence Minister, is deeply dismissive of their actions. “The Commission does not take the blame because it does not care about the political cost,” he told Politico. “The Commission is here for five years to do its job and we did it with vision, responsibility and commitment. Because what is driving us is not to be re-elected. That is why for us the political cost means nothing.”
European leaders, he said, should be similarly bold. “This is the message I would send all around Europe: stop thinking about the so-called political cost,” Avramopoulos said.
Aaron Banks, the man behind the Leave.eu campaign to secure a British exit from the EU during the upcoming referendum on the matter, has accused Avramopoulos of “breath-taking arrogance”.
“Every person should see how the EU machine thinks and operates,” he continued, adding that Avramopoulos’s comments “just prove our point over and over again. We have got to take control of this, Cameron cannot ignore this arrogance. We urge everyone who cares about leaving the EU to read this and let as many people know about it,” Banks said.