EU president condemns ‘winds of populism’ in Europe

Agence France-Presse
The European Union president condemns the rise of extremist movements and populism in the 27-nation bloc

BUCHAREST, Romania – European Union president Herman Van Rompuy condemned on Wednesday, April 25, the rise of extremist movements and populism as a threat to the free movement of people across the 27-nation bloc.

“Nationalist and extremist movements are on the rise; many of them blame ‘Brussels’ for bad news. There can only be one response. Telling the truth,” Van Rompuy wrote on Twitter.

“Regrettably, the winds of populism are affecting a key achievement of European integration: the free movement of persons within the EU,” he wrote during a visit to Romania.

In an address to Romanian lawmakers, Van Rompuy said he welcomed the confidence-enhancing steps taken by local authorities to boost the country’s Schengen entrance bid.

“This will ensure that Romania becomes a safe entry point into the Schengen area,” he said.

“I am aware that border controls require investment and substantial means and that it is not always easy in difficult budgetary times.”

Debate over Schengen

Romanian President Traian Basescu thanked Van Rompuy for insisting that the EU adopt a decision on Romania’s entry bid in September.

EU interior ministers will meet Thursday for talks expected to include a French-German proposal to give states more power to restore border checks within the Schengen passport-free travel zone.

The debate over Schengen comes as French President Nicolas Sarkozy courts far-right voters after the anti-immigrant Front National party obtained 18 percent of the vote in the first round of France’s presidential election.

Sarkozy finished second to Socialist candidate Francois Hollande in Sunday’s vote and is behind in opinion polls ahead of the May 6 runoff. – Agence France-Presse