Europe’s most senior unelected official is proud of a borderless EU. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, believes the Schengen area of 26 countries that have removed all shared checkpoints was ‘one of our very greatest achievements’.
As more European leaders voice concerns that hundreds of thousands of migrants crossing the Mediterranean to Italy and Greece are able to move quickly to other areas – including Calais, en route to Britain – because there are no passport checks, Mr Juncker has revealed his pride that this human flood is unhindered by walls or national boundaries.
In an article for the French newspaper Le Figaro and the German broadsheet Die Welt, Mr Juncker wrote: “What worries me is to hear politicians from Left to Right nourishing a populism that brings only anger and not solutions. Hate speech and rash statements that threaten one of our very greatest achievements – the Schengen area and the absence of internal borders: that is not Europe.”
Mr Juncker, who wants leaders to agree to a plan to distribute migrants entering the EU between different countries, added: “What we need, and what we are sadly still lacking, is the collective courage to follow through on our commitments – even when they are not easy; even when they are not popular.
“Instead, what I see is finger pointing – a tired blame game which might win publicity, maybe even votes, but which is not actually solving any problems.”
Mr Juncker’s article comes just days after German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Europe to do more to accommodate migrants. Speaking ahead of a summit with French President François Hollande, she said: “Time is running out. EU member states must share costs relating to this action.”
Germany, which has so far taken more migrants than any other European country, is keen to introduce a Europe-wide quota system for migrants.
Austrian foreign minister Sebastian Kurz yesterday deplored the “lack of checks on migrants” in the EU as he visited the border between Greece and Macedonia. There he spoke to migrants as they readied to head toward EU-member Hungary from where they want to continue further north to richer EU countries, such as Germany and Sweden.
His comments follow a warning from German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere that the Schengen Agreement could be “in danger” because migrants arriving in Greece and Italy are heading north to make asylum claims. Germany expects to receive 800,000 asylum applications this year.
The European Commission said yesterday the 30-year-old Schengen Agreement, enshrining the right of anyone regardless of nationality to cross borders without checks, was “non-negotiable”. Britain has not signed up to it.
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