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Europe in danger of failing on all fronts

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Two Hungarian riot policemen escort a migrant woman and her child in Roszke, Hungary, yesterday. Serbia has condemned Hungary’s use of water cannon and tear gas against migrants on their border

Two Hungarian riot policemen escort a migrant woman and her child in Roszke, Hungary, yesterday. Serbia has condemned Hungary’s use of water cannon and tear gas against migrants on their border

REUTERS

Two Hungarian riot policemen escort a migrant woman and her child in Roszke, Hungary, yesterday. Serbia has condemned Hungary’s use of water cannon and tear gas against migrants on their border

Europe's leaders, including our own, have become passive armchair observers in the refugee crisis engulfing their borders.

The scenes we are witnessing in Hungary, where water cannon and tear gas have been turned on desperate people, challenge every value that the EU is supposed to stand for.

Now Croatia is being stretched to the point of calling in the army. A fortress Europe mentality is taking hold.

It took two world wars for the lessons that a divided Europe was a guarantee for disaster to take seed.

Robert Schuman, who presented the embryonic vision for a united Europe in his Declaration in May 1950, sought stability through unity and co-operation. As a realist, looking beyond Europe, he also said: "World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it."

We are all too familiar with the dangers, but where are today's Schumans? Europe certainly doesn't have one.

This week it failed once more to reach agreement on quotas. A day after the bloc once more shamefully failed to agree on plans to relocate the tens of thousands of refugees, leaders vowed to try again next week.

The fate of the EU itself has now become entwined with that of the refugees. Freedom to move around, freedom to live and freedom to expect a safe haven when fleeing for one's life should not really test a cradle of civilisation.

Yet Europe finds itself failing on all fronts.

Is it any wonder the UN has slated the bloc for its ungenerous and incoherent attempts to engage realistically with the suffering masses in its midst? German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for EU leaders to pull together.

We have had the bodies of small children washed up on our shores. But far from opening up and acting in unison, we are closing down.

Razor fences and giant barriers are rapidly being erected. If the EU is a union in anything but name, then surely it behoves the strong to help the weak. If it continually fails to do so, how can it claim to be strong?

Irish Independent