Monday

5th Dec 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.

EU countries struggle to crack Hungary's vetos

Hungary will be in the spotlight on Tuesday as EU governments struggle over suspending EU funds to prime minister Viktor Orbán's government — despite rule of law concerns — and unlock key EU policies which Budapest has been blocking.

EU Commission proposes suspending billions to Hungary

Prime minister Viktor Orbán's government has to implement 27 measures "fully and correctly" before any payment from the €5.8bn recovery fund can be made, or the suspended €7.5bn of cohesion funds can be unblocked.

Catalan spyware victims demand justice

Victims of the widening spyware scandal in Spain are demanding justice and reparations, following the revelations that journalists, lawyers, civil society and politicians had been targeted.

EU Commission to keep Hungary's EU funds in limbo

The EU executive, on the other hand, is expected to approve Hungary's recovery plan, worth €5.8bn, but only would disburse actual money if Hungary delivers on some 27 key reforms.

Opinion

Serbia now has no choice but to join EU sanctions on Russia

Vladimir Putin himself is somewhat suspicious of Serbia's leader, as are most who deal with the opaque Aleksandar Vucic. The Russian president has preferred to keep his Serbian counterpart compliant, via a tight rein of annually-reviewed gas pricing.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. EU countries struggle to crack Hungary's vetos
  2. Frontex expanding migrant route-busting mission in Balkans
  3. EU ministers in fresh battle on joint debt, after Biden subsidies
  4. EU: 'We'll see' if Moscow actually stops selling oil over price-cap
  5. Bad Karma
  6. Serbia now has no choice but to join EU sanctions on Russia
  7. Hungary's funds showdown in focus This WEEK
  8. EU must break Orbán's veto on a tax rate for multinationals

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us