Europe is facing a huge crisis - Higgins
Published 19/04/2016 | 02:30
Europe is faced with a daunting series of crises and is at "a critical juncture", President Michael D Higgins has said.
Mr Higgins has questioned what he described as abandonment of legitimate political debate to "the automaticity of rigid fiscal rules".
And he claimed that we have witnessed "a ruinously and narrowly self-interested response" by many EU members to the migrant crisis.
In a speech entitled 'Creating a New Moment for the European Union: Problems and Prospects', Mr Higgins took issue with the treatment of migrants and said the "calamitous situation" jeopardises both the freedom of travel and exposes "a severe breakdown of trust amongst the EU member states".
"Most alarmingly, it has the potential to undermine the values and principles at the basis of that humanistic spirit to which Europeans recommitted themselves after the devastation of World War II," he said.
"Can we leave millions of mothers and fathers, teenagers, children and babies, to wait in uncertainty, hopeless poverty and squalor at the border of Europe?
"Can we avert our gaze from the even larger numbers of those who are trapped in precarious camps in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan? Is our response to be defined by barbed wire, tear gas and rubber bullets?" the President asked.
Speaking to the Irish Association of Contemporary European Studies, Mr Higgins said: "Our ability to fully seize upon such matters will determine, I believe, the future of the European project - whether it will flourish or perish."
He declined to comment on the prospect of a Brexit, but said: "The European Union needs reform, it needs energy, it needs participation."