Dear readers,

A Europe that protects is the motto that Austria has chosen for its rotating presidency of the EU, which will run until 31 December. A motto that can be interpreted in many different ways: A Europe that protects its citizens from poverty by implementing a robust social pillar, from diseases by applying the best health care measures, from injustice and persecution by putting in place a fair and just legal system, etc. It could also be taken to mean a Europe that provides shelter for those fleeing persecution and injustice, poverty or war.

However, following the discussion in and around the June European Council when EU leaders discussed migration and the importance of securing our external borders, I think it means, essentially, A Europe that protects citizens from an influx of asylum seekers and migrants.

Protecting our external borders is key and it is a shame that this was not duly considered when Schengen was introduced in the first place and that it was rejected later. It is clear that Europe cannot be the shelter for all the people who are seeking a better life.

But what makes Europe unique is its values: respect for human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and fraternity. Yes, fraternity, a word and value that is too often forgotten,  deeply rooted in Europe's Christian heritage, which some European parties seem to be rediscovering even as they watch hundreds of refugees drown in the Mediterranean Sea.

Let us be clear. I am absolutely against uncontrolled immigration. But what we need now is solidarity among the Member States towards real asylum seekers – people who have the right to asylum under the Geneva Refugee Convention – a genuine European solution for controlled immigration and the establishment of European reception centres worthy of the name because based on our – European - human values.

Humanity, fraternity and solidarity are deeply rooted in European society. That's what Europe is all about.  Don't let us be divided by agitators and scaremongers, but rather let's work together on European rules for asylum, immigration and integration which everybody who seeks our hospitality has to adhere to.