EU president warns against populism after French first round
European Union president Herman Van Rompuy has warned of a rise of “populism” and “extremism” across the continent in the aftermath of the Front National’s 18 per cent vote in France’s presidential first round. Interior ministers are to discuss changing the rules of free movement within the EU on Thursday
"Nationalist and extremist movements are on the rise; many of them blame 'Brussels' for bad news. There can only be one response. Telling the truth," Van Rompuy wrote on Twitter during a visit to Romania on Wednesday.
"Regrettably, the winds of populism are affecting a key achievement of European integration: the free movement of persons within the EU," he wrote.
European interior ministers meet in Luxembourg on Thursday to discuss a Franco-German proposal to allow states to re-establish border controls within the area covered by the Schengen agreement on passport-free travel.
French Interior Minister Claude Guéant will defend the proposal, which was first raised in March last year.
On Monday President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is trying to win far-right votes in the 6 May final round of France’s presidential election, declared that the French have had enough of a “sieve Europe”.
“If Europe can’t defend its borders, France will,” he told a campaign meeting.
But several countries are opposed to the proposed change.
It “smells very bad”, Luxembourg’s Foreign Affairs Minister Jean Asselborn told the German magazine Der Spiegel.
“Europe’s leaders should show leadership instead of giving in the forces of the far right,” said European internal affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom.