Speaking on VRT TV, Belgian Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration, Theo Francken (New Flemish Alliance) on Wednesday accused the European Union of hypocrisy, in reaction to the controversy sparked by statements he made the day before at a European meeting. On arriving on Tuesday at a meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council, Francken had announced that he would advocate the method adopted by Australia to deal with migration, an approach that favors selected, targeted immigration, radically rejecting any illegal migration.
The Secretary of State had also insisted that Europe should be able to push back boatloads of migrants. During an interview, he had said that, to do this, Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights would need to be circumvented. A few hours later, however, he qualified this statement, explaining that it was not Art. 3 of the Convention that he wanted circumvented but “the broad interpretation that the European Court of Human Rights has given to it.”
On Wednesday, the Secretary of State admitted that he should not have used the word “circumvent” but should rather have talked about “redirecting the boats to Tunisia”. He then explained that he was not aiming at a massive violation of Art. 3.
On the other hand, the Flemish nationalist was not happy with the response of European Commissioner Dimitri Avramopoulos to his statements. Avramopoulos had stated that “the Australian model would never be followed in Europe” and that there would be no push backs to North Africa.
According to Francken, the commissioner had nevertheless already gone to Tunisia to discuss the issue. The EU “has concluded a deal with Erdogan’s Turkey and another with the militias in Libya which, in the field of human rights are champions in Africa,” Francken said. “They say the Rue de la Loi (seat of parliament) runs on hypocrisy; I think the same goes for the Schuman Roundabout (EU headquarters),” he stated. “That is again being confirmed today.”