EU Parliament’s Brexit Representative Wants Common Migration Policy, ‘Blue Cards’ for Economic Migrants

THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images
THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images

Guy Verhofstadt, the former Prime Minister of Belgium and the European Parliament’s chosen representative in the Brexit talks, has demanded a “common European migration policy” and a “Blue Card” for economic migrants.

“I cannot accept that there are still thousands and thousands of people dying in the Mediterranean Sea at our door, because of the lack of a European migration policy,” the MEP for the left-liberal ALDE group railed at a debate in the Dutch city of Maastricht, where the Treaty on European Union was signed.

“[W]hen there’s a problem with asylum and immigration, it’s not [the European Union] that is the source of it, it’s the member-states who are not willing to deal together with this issue!” he insisted, jabbing his finger angrily at the audience.

In fact, robust action at the national level by Italy’s eurosceptic Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, Matteo Salvini, has slashed the number of drownings in the Mediterranean Sea dramatically, with the southern European country adopting a tough love “stop the boats, stop the drownings” strategy along Australian lines.

Evidently, this is not the approach to migration which Mr Verhofstadt favours, with the MEP instead arguing for a European Border and Coast Guard — which, in fact, already exists, although at present it supplements national border forces instead of controlling them as EU integrationists desire — as well as “European asylum rules” and “a European economic migration, a type of Blue Card, because it’s nonsense to talk about migration and to say, ‘Oh, they cannot enter!'”

Verhofstadt’s view that economic migrants, who make up the majority of people entering the EU claiming to be refugees by irregular means, cannot be stopped and must instead be “managed” is common among the European establishment — but, as with the claim that sea drownings cannot be prevented by turning away boats, it appears rooted in personal preference rather than empirical reality

Hungary, for example, was able to reduce illegal immigration by over 99 per cent, from the hundreds of thousands at the height of the migrant crisis to negligible proportions today, by building and properly manning physical border barriers — exactly the sort of “they cannot enter” policy Verhofstadt denounced as “nonsense”.

Verhofstadt’s public push for the EU to grab powers over immigration from national governments — where sovereignty is already limited as a result of the bloc’s existing asylum rules and Free Movement regime — follows similar demands for it to be allowed to raise taxes directly, without needing to rely on national governments for funding.

“This Union, if it wants to become a real federal union, needs [its] own resources; needs, in fact, its own income,” he insisted in a tirade launched at Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage in the European Parliament.

“[T]hat is the big battle to do now, and we will do it together, and if it is easier, without you Mr Farage!”

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