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INCOMING European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen’s creation of a new post for “protecting our European way of life” was branded “grotesque” and “an abomination” today.
The position, one of many Commission posts that have been renamed to sound “less formal and goal-orientated,” replaces the former migration, home affairs and citizenship office.
Outlining the new portfolio given to Greek former MEP Margaritis Schinas, Mrs von der Leyen said: “We must address and allay legitimate fears and concerns about the impact of irregular migration on our economy and society.”
Mr Schinas, a member of Greece’s governing right-wing New Democracy party, said his office would be “better protecting our citizens and borders and modernising our asylum system.”
The new title was criticised widely on social media, as well as by MEPs, NGOs and legislators for echoing fascist rhetoric.
Calling for the post to be axed Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld said: “Creating a portfolio [for] ‘protection of the European way of life’ in response to ‘legitimate fears and concerns about the impact of irregular migration’ is totally misguided and reprehensible.
“The implication that Europeans need to be protected from external cultures is grotesque and this narrative should be rejected.”
French Green MEP Damien Careme branded the job title “an abomination,” while Germany’s Ska Keller, leader of the Greens-European Free Alliance group in the EU Parliament, pointed out that the new post implied a “contradiction between supporting refugees and European values.”
Cypriot MEP Giorgos Georgiou of the communist Akel party said Ms von der Leyen’s words were “pushing the framing of the far-right narrative against immigration into the political mainstream,” adding: “If Europe seeks protection, then it can find it by changing the policies it is currently pursuing.
“Let us be reminded that more than 36,000 people have lost their lives trying to get to Fortress Europe,” he said.
Simon Pompe of Mediterranean migrant rescue NGO Sea-Eye called the slogan “worrisome” for civil search-and-rescue operations. He told the Star that framing the “European way of life” as something in need of protection of migrants is “a far-fetched thesis.”
Mr Pompe added: “Juxtaposing the one with the other is a trope of xenophobic and racist actors.”
He argued that the inclusion of “such thinly veiled anti-immigration commissioners” was intended to please those European governments “who seek to restrict asylum and migration for domestic political reasons” in return for them approving Ms von der Leyen’s appointment.
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