Wednesday, 19 December 2018
Post-European Council: Statements
Following on from earlier comments, will the Minister of State tell me whether there was or is recognition at the European Council of the major significance of developments such as the yellow vest protests in France where Paris and other cities were burning and the protests in Hungary? How are the latter protests connected to the very dangerous direction in which Mr. Victor Orbán is taking Hungary and the wider and terrifying rise of the far right across Europe? There is even a connection with the extreme right-wing politics of the Tory Party and the mess it has led it into. If there is no reflection on this issue and particularly how it might have contributed, Europe is stumbling in a very dangerous direction.
I often hear very strong promoters of the European Union say the main reason we need it is to avoid the conflicts of the 1930s and 1940s and the war they produced. If that is the case, is it not worth reminding ourselves that it was actually the growth of the far right in the 1930s that led to the Second World War and all of the associated horrors? Is something not going wrong if the European Union is presiding over circumstances in which there is an alarming rise of the far right within its boundaries? Is EU policy contributing to it?
There was some humility and recognition after the Brexit referendum result when the European Union stated it might have made mistakes, but that has all disappeared. There is now no such recognition and we are back to business as usual. One can see the consequences on the streets of Paris and in Hungary. Although the European Union often presents itself as very progressive, it gives succour to the arguments of the extreme right by using phrases such as "burden sharing" in dealing with immigrants. Who are the burden? Is it immigrants? It is giving succour to the logic of the far right in even suggesting immigrants are a burden. They are not; they enrich our society. In the case of Hungary and much of Europe, immigrants are needed because there are extreme labour shortages. The language implies an us-and-them logic and a European version of internationalism that ends at the boundaries of white Christian Europe. The internationalism does not extend in any significant way to north Africa or the Arab world and the European Union is erecting boundaries to keep migrants out. It is discussing with regimes in these regions which are often very obnoxious how migrants can be kept out. That gives succour to the far right. It also deflects from the fundamental economic and social injustices that are leading people to become angry and alienated with the political structures of Europe. If the European Union does not start to reflect on this, it is stumbling into very serious circumstances.