The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, has voiced concerns that immigration could threaten the unity of the bloc. In an interview with the Guardian, Borrell highlighted the rising nationalist sentiment in Europe and expressed his belief that the EU has been unable to reach a common migration policy. He stated, “Migration is a bigger divide for the European Union. And it could be a dissolving force for the European Union. There are some members of the European Union that are Japanese-style – we don’t want to mix. We don’t want migrants. We don’t want to accept people from outside. We want our purity.”
Borrell acknowledged the paradoxical nature of Europe’s low demographic growth, arguing that some member states require immigration to sustain their labor force. He stated, “If we want to survive from a labor point of view, we need migrants.”
These comments come in the context of recent statements made by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who declared that Germany had reached its limit in accepting migrants and refugees. Steinmeier cited strong immigration from the eastern borders, as well as the influx of over a million refugees from Ukraine in the last year. He called for a permanent solidarity mechanism to ensure a fair distribution of migrants in Europe.
The issue of migration and border policies within the EU has been a contentious issue since 2015, when the bloc experienced a significant influx of refugees and economic migrants from Africa and the Middle East. Some member states, such as Hungary and Poland, have strongly opposed attempts by Brussels to force them to accept and settle migrants. Italy has also closed its ports to ships carrying migrants from North Africa, demanding that other member states share the burden of accepting them. The demand for tighter border controls was also a key issue during the Brexit referendum in the UK.
Borrell acknowledged that the divisions over immigration could potentially threaten the integrity of the EU. However, he suggested that, for now, the bloc would remain intact. He argued that the UK’s decision to leave the EU had served as a “vaccine” for other member states, as no one wants to follow in Britain’s footsteps.
It is noteworthy that Rome is reportedly re-evaluating its border policies due to a spike in migration. Last December, Italian officials notified other EU members that the country would be halting migrant transfers for a limited period due to technical issues related to its intake capacity. This suspension has continued into 2023.
In conclusion, the issue of immigration is causing growing divisions within the European Union. While some member states are resistant to accepting migrants, others argue that immigration is essential to sustain their labor force. The lack of a common migration policy has created a divide within the bloc, with concerns about the integrity of the EU being raised. However, despite these divisions, the EU is expected to remain intact, with the UK’s departure serving as a deterrent for other member states considering leaving the union.