The migration crisis facing Europe could lead to the collapse of the European Union and even to war, the bloc’s longest-running foreign minister said in an interview published Monday (9 November).
Jean Asselborn, foreign minister of Luxembourg since 2004, told German press agency DPA that the core EU element of borderless travel, agreed in the Luxembourg city of Schengen in 1985, is under threat.
“We have maybe only several months time left [to save it],” he said.
“The European Union can break apart. That can happen incredibly fast, when isolation instead of solidarity, both inwards and outwards, becomes the rule.”
Asselborn is not the first European politician to warn of a break-up.
Slovenian prime minister Miro Cerar said last month he believed the EU would “fall apart” if no solution is found to slow down the influx of refugees and migrants.
But with Luxembourg holding the six-month rotating presidency of EU and counting itself among the bloc’s six founding states, its words carry extra weight.
The Grand Duchy’s centre-left minister criticised politicians who use fear of migration as a way to appeal to voters, saying there are in the EU “some who have not truly internalised the value of the European Union, which is not only material value.”
“The glue that holds us together is still the culture of human values. And this false nationalism can lead to a real war,” noted Asselborn.
He didn’t speak of how war could break out, but, like Germany’s Angela Merkel in recent days, he expressed worry about rising tension in the Western Balkans – the main migratory route.
“When the lid is shut in Sweden and Germany, then I do not know what will happen in the Balkans”, said Asselborn.
“I believe that there is already a very, very critical situation.”
The migration crisis will be on top of the agenda in Brussels again this week, as interior ministers meet Monday to discuss relocations of migrants.
EU leaders are also meeting with African heads of state in Malta on Wednesday (11 November) and holding a separate, EU-only summit in Valletta the following day.