Speaking during today’s ‘State of the Union’ debate in the European Parliament, European Conservatives and Reformists group leader Syed Kamall MEP warned that ideology and dogma were paralysing the EU. Instead he argued for more practical cooperation, recognising that in the migration crisis every country may have a different contribution to make.
Speaking following Commission President Juncker’s speech, the leader of the third-largest group said:
“Year after year, I sit in this chamber, and I hear a lot of rhetoric. A lot of idealism. A lot of ideology.
I hear some people say that only more Europe is the only answer.
I hear others say that the EU is the cause of the problem
I fear we’ll hear it again today.
And you know what?
This is why we can never get anything done. Why the EU has seen crisis after crisis.
I know that many of us from across the political spectrum came into politics to help people.
But in this chamber we are paralysing this continent with ideology and dogma.
Dogma that has created fair-weather EU policies – like castles made of sand that melt into the sea eventually.
Today I’ve seen some surrealism in the debate. But the EU needs some realism – some eurorealism.
The migrant and refugee crisis is one example.
Many people on the edges of this chamber deliberately seek to confuse economic migrants with refugees – either to let them all in, or to keep them all out.
We need to be clear about the distinction. People running for their lives seek sanctuary as refugees.
But for those not fleeing persecution or famine it’s human nature to want a better life, but we must be clear that correct rules must be followed.
And we must be honest with our voters.
The effects of the war in Syria and other conflicts will be long-lasting. And those who say there are easy solutions are just plain wrong.
But in the EU, rather than trying to find common solutions our countries and institutions are now finding someone to blame.
Some countries are unilaterally rewriting the rules. Others are clearly flouting them and undermining trust.
But if there is one thing the EU should be useful for, it’s bringing countries together to cooperate and to find solutions.
So let’s sit down around a table. And I do not just mean the EU. This is an international crisis that needs an international response.
Of the four million refugees from Syria, 90 percent are in camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. While some Middle Eastern countries take no-one.
Let’s work out what each country can do to help those fleeing for their lives.
But telling countries what to do – forcing a plan on them – only risks more finger pointing. It might make us feel better, but I fear it could make this crisis worse.
Because different countries can offer help in different ways. Let’s recognise this.
Yes, some countries may wish to take in migrants already in the EU. That is their choice.
But others will rightly say they want to help the most vulnerable in the camps around Syria.
We have an obligation to help the millions of people displaced by this war. Not just the thousands of people who make it to Europe.
Which is why some countries – including my own – are focusing their efforts on these camps and on the ground, taking the vulnerable, and delivering over a billion euros in aid to Syrian camps, and hundreds of millions to African refugees. And others are keeping their commitment to delivering 0.7 percent of GNI to building economic infrastructure in poorer countries around the world.
Other countries can make a contribution with funding and assistance in setting up application centres closer to where people are fleeing from. So vulnerable people don’t have to fall into the arms of traffickers.
Others can commit the hardware and intelligence to take out or undermine the traffickers.
And for all of us, stabilising this situation will mean investing in resources to detain, swiftly process, and return those who do not have a legitimate claim.
In the ECR, we want a realistic, a holistic, and a practical response. There should now be no sacred cows if we are to solve it together.
President Juncker, over the past year we have seen an unprecedented amount of sticking plaster placed on Europe’s cracks, not least in the Euro crisis.
Instead of more sticking plaster, we need to start finding some real solutions. And that will mean abandoning the dream of a one size fits all United States of Europe.
But the time to point fingers is over. I hope that there will not be any of that today. It might produce headlines, but we need to produce solutions.
So, let us sit down and work together. Europe does not need a new Iron Curtain. Europe needs an iron will to come together, work together, and find a solution, together.”
15 September 2023
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