The president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker asked EU countries to make legal immigration easier to avoid tragedies in the Mediterranean on Wednesday, and drew hostile reactions from the European Popular Party, his political allies at the European parliament. “We have work to do on the issue of legal immigration. If we close the gates, migrants will break in through the windows,” he warned during a European parliament discussion of the results of last week’s extraordinary European summit, which he deemed “inadequate.”
The European commission will introduce a global strategy for migrations on May 13th. It will make suggestions to ease legal economic immigration to the EU and request mandatory quotas for refugees to be welcomed in every European country.
The president of the European Popular Party (PPE), the German conservative MEP Manfred Weber, opposed Mr. Juncker’s propositions. “Those who say we must open the gates of the EU job market to legal immigrants are wrong,” he maintained. “One in 5 youths is unemployed on this continent.”
Mr. Juncker’s proposition was also opposed by the ECR group led by British conservatives, by the British Europhobes from UKIP, and by far-right parties. “Sending a message saying anyone who comes will be welcome is a disaster (…). I am sorry, but we cannot welcome them. 77% of our citizens say no,” said Nigel Farage, the UKIP leader, in the middle of a difficult election campaign in the UK.
“We cannot close the gates to everyone, but we cannot welcome everyone either, not all those who want to come,” said the British MEP Syed Salah Kamall, leader of the British conservatives’ ECR group. The French MEP Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front, the French far-right party, lambasted Mr. Juncker’s suggestion. “You support migration: that is your policy. But have you asked the people, the nations, what they support?” she said.