Wednesday

18th May 2022

Van Rompuy: 'Winds of populism' threaten free movement

EU Council chief Herman Van Rompuy has spoken out against the "winds of populism" threatening freedom of movement in the Union - a swipe at anti-immigrant discourse in French elections and on the Dutch political scene.

"It is the duty of each government to make sure that no-one - no member of any group or any minority - is treated as a second-class citizen. Regrettably, the winds of populism are affecting a key achievement of European integration: the free movement of persons within our borders," he said in a speech in the Romanian parliament on Wednesday (25 April).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Keeping the EU's inner borders open was a "sign of civilisation," the EU official noted.

"In that space, there is no room for stigmatisation of foreigners, as happens in certain countries nowadays," he added.

Van Rompuy's remarks come as French President Nicolas Sarkozy the same day openly said that he plans to woo far-right voters in order to win the second round on 6 May.

"We need to speak to the 18 percent who voted for [far-right candidate] Marine Le Pen [in the first round]," Sarkozy told France Info radio.

"I don't regard this 18 percent as people with extreme-right ideas ... but I don't want ministers from [Le Pen's party] the National Front."

Observers expect Sarkozy to sharpen up his attacks on the EU passport-free Schengen travel zone in the coming days. He recently said France would quit the scheme unless its rules are made more tough. Last month he also said integration is not working because "there are too many foreigners" in France.

Dutch crisis

Van Rompuy in his Bucharest speech also referred to Romania's long-delayed Schengen entry bid, saying there is "progress" because EU ministers are to take a decision in September.

The Netherlands last year vetoed Romania and Bulgaria's entry citing corruption and crime.

But the Dutch government - currently in 'caretaking' mode after the coalition fell apart on budget issues - also wielded its veto to please the anti-immigrant Freedom Party in return for its support in parliament.

Snap Dutch elections are due on 12 September, with little prospect of a Dutch u-turn on Bulgaria and Romania before then.

Meanwhile, Van Rompuy encouraged his Romanian hosts to continue "confidence-enhancing initiatives" in border control and in police co-operation with Dutch authorities.

"This will ensure Romania becomes a safe entry point into the Schengen area. I am aware that border controls require investment and substantial means and that this is not always easy in difficult budgetary times. However, such choices are necessary to live up to the standards and to assume the responsibility of being a member of the Union," he said.

Sarkozy: 'Too many foreigners in France'

A combative Nicolas Sarkozy during a TV show on Tuesday said there are too many immigrants in France in a bid to woo voters from the far right.

Hungary turned into 'hybrid regime', MEPs say

The new draft European Parliament report is an update to the 2018 report which triggered the Article 7 procedure against Hungary, a sanctions probe aiming to rein in member states that break EU rules and values.

Exclusive

EU to clean house of Russia lobbyists

Brussels is to wave goodbye to Russian lobbyists under new sanctions, ending a 20-year era of influence peddling in Europe.

MEPs urge EU not to relax policing rule-of-law amid war

European lawmakers debated the lack of progress in the EU sanctions probe against Poland and Hungary, and warned Russia's invasion of Ukraine should not be a reason to turn away from rule-breaking within the bloc.

News in Brief

  1. Germany shuts ex-chancellor Schröder's office over Putin ties
  2. Russia soldier pleads guilty to Ukraine war crime
  3. EU to protect Finland and Sweden until they join Nato
  4. Poland backs Hungary over frozen 'rule of law' EU funds
  5. EU to reduce size and scope of Mali military mission
  6. Band members testify about Bataclan attack
  7. German prosecutors want five years for alleged ex-Nazi guard
  8. UN urges Iran to halt execution of Swedish-Iranian academic

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine - the case for granting EU candidacy
  2. Watchdog calls for tougher curbs on 'problematic' revolving doors
  3. Borrell: EU arms flow to Ukraine amid 'record' Russian losses
  4. UK and EU edge closer to trade war over Northern Ireland
  5. Rescue crew face 20 years jail for saving migrants
  6. Roma refugees from Ukraine face Czech xenophobia
  7. EU not doing enough to help Ukraine, Yellen says
  8. MEPs raise ambition on EU carbon market reform

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us