Migration was one of the main topics when Gernot Blümel, Austrian Minister for the EU, Arts, Culture and Media, presented Austria's EU programme at the EESC plenary session on 11 July.
"The EU may fail over the migration issue, over Schengen, over upholding fundamental values. More than a Europe that Protects, we should stand for a Europe that protects, promotes and shares," said EESC president Luca Jahier.
Gabriele Bischoff, president of the Workers' Group, said that workers supported a different concept of a Europe that protects. "Particularly at a time where trust in Europe is fading, citizens need to know that Europe can ensure their rights and freedoms", she said.
Arno Metzler, president of the Diversity Europe Group, said: "I hope that Austria's presidency will defend humanity and ensure that we work together. Migration is only one aspect, but we need to work together on other issues too, such as digital trade, free trade, citizen participation and the MFF."
Jacek Krawczyk, president of the Employers' Group, underlined that Europe was also about its values, which were non-negotiable. He said: "Europe is still at a crossroads. We need to be clear on the direction we want to take. Undermining Schengen would have devastating consequences for business and for all citizens".
Minister Blümel defended the planned migration centres outside Europe. "As long as it remains possible to get on a boat which could be a ticket to Europe, people will continue to die in the Mediterranean", he said. (sma)