European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen rebuffed populist critics in the European Parliament on mass migration, claiming they “preach hatred”.
President Von der Leyen was challenged on mass migration policies by members of the populist Identity and Democracy (ID) group in the European Parliament which consists of members of the French National Rally (RN), Matteo Salvini’s League, and other anti-mass migration parties.
Nicolas Bay, a French MEP and member of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, countered the Commission president by saying that “asylum has become a supply chain for illegal immigration”, newspaper Il Giornale reports.
“Asylum seekers do not come here to escape wars but for economic reasons and know that they will be able to stay here because of your permissiveness,” he added.
Bay went on to state that “humanitarian dramas” have become an excuse for the EU to adopt lax policies on migration and advocated more deportations to stop deaths in the Mediterranean by deterring migrants from making the voyage to Europe.
EU President Calls for Borders to Remain Open During Coronavirus Outbreak https://t.co/l8nhtj8TNs
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 16, 2020
President Von der Leyen replied: “We are convinced that every human being has dignity, which cannot be touched, regardless of where they come from.”
Joerg Meuthen, an MEP for the Alternative for Germany (AfD), attempted to interrupt the Commission president but had his microphone cut.
“This makes you angry because we have caught you in a contradiction. This is democracy. You cannot support the contradiction: you preach hatred, we want solutions. We want a constructive approach to migration because they will always be with us,” von der Leyen said.
She added: “Every year, about two million people come to Europe and 140,000 refugees. It is normal: we must be able to manage it.”
President von der Leyen has been a staunch open borders advocate since becoming European Commission president and even attempted to keep the internal EU borders open during the outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus earlier this year.
She also courted criticism in July after seemingly breaching EU rules on impartiality by supporting the centre-right Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) after she appeared in a promotional video.
Chief spokesman for the Commission, Eric Mamer, later claimed von der Leyen had been speaking in a personal capacity.