In this edition of Brussels, my love?, we discuss the recent anti-migrant riots in Dublin and the different far-right movements across Europe.
Our guests this week were Pedro Marques, Portuguese MEP for the Socialists and Democrats, Rebecca Christie, Europe columnist for Breakingviews and senior fellow at economic think-tank Bruegel, and Lars Patrick Berg, German MEP for the European Conservatives and Reformists.
Panelists reacted to the recent anti-immigrant protesters in Dublin that shattered Ireland’s view as the nation of ‘one hundred thousand welcomes’. Protesters set fire to buses, looted businesses and clashed with police forces. The mobs were responding to a stabbing attack, allegedly committed by a naturalised citizen, which left a woman and three children injured.
Rebecca Christie attributed the unprecedented riots and the general growth of support for the far-right to a sense of disillusionment.
“If communities are prosperous, you don’t see the widespread, sort of, eruption of these fears,” said Christie. “It’s when gaps start to emerge in the society that you start seeing space for this sort of thing.”
Lars Patrick Berg condemned the riots in Dublin, but also leveled criticism at Europe’s handling of immigration.
“I would say you have extremism from the right and from the left, but you also have imported extremism from Muslim people,” Berg said. “This needs to be addressed without it being a taboo.”
“We need to go back to being a society of tolerance,” said Pedro Marques, “because that’s what defines Europe.”
Panelists also discussed green fatigue in Europe, a sentiment on the rise as the COP28 Climate Change Conference gets underway in Dubai.
Politicians such as Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo are warning of shrinking public support for the green agenda, putting the blame on excessive regulations that overburden citizens.
Rebecca Christie and Lars Patrick Berg concurred that the financial burden placed on citizens by environmental policies needs to be addressed.
“People want to go green as long as they can do it without losing too much money,” Christie said. “To succeed, the green agenda is going to have to focus on growth.”
“It should be possible for people to afford these green initiatives,” Berg said. “And if they can’t afford it, they will be tired of it and they will oppose it.”
Pedro Marques disagreed. “There is devastation around us because of the climate emergency,” Marques said, “so I don’t think we can put the brakes on”.
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