EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker widens rift with
European leaders as he calls for open borders

By Matt Dathan | Daily Mail | August 23, 2016

Under-fire EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker (pictured) risked widening divisions with European leaders today by saying borders were the 'worst invention ever.'

He called for all borders across Europe to be opened, despite the chaos caused over the last year from the flood of refugees fleeing Syria and the wave of terror attacks hitting various continent's cities.

The remarkable comments will further undermine Mr Juncker's precarious position as European Commission President.

He has faced repeated calls to quit after his failure to keep Britain in the EU and the refugee and Greek debt crises.

Today he accepted the Commission 'deserves criticism' but insisted national governments 'have to share the blame.'

Speaking at the Alpbach Media Academy this morning, Mr Juncker said: 'Borders are the worst invention ever made by politicians.'

The contentious remarks from the Brussels chief are the polar opposite of moves by elected leaders of EU member states who have tightened their borders over recent months after more than a million refugees entered the bloc from Syria in less than a year.

Mr Juncker also said a stronger EU was the best way of beating the rising trend of nationalism cross Europe.

In another extraordinary remark, he appeared to warn of war on the continent if the EU disintegrates as he echoed the warning from the former French president Francois Mitterrand, who said nationalism added to nationalism would end in war.

'This is still true so we have to fight against nationalism,' Mr Juncker said.

Jean-Claude Juncker called for all borders across Europe to be opened, despite the chaos caused over the last year from the flood in refugees fleeing Syria. (Hundreds of migrants are pictured at the Hungarian and Austrian border last year.)
Jean-Claude Juncker called for all borders across Europe to be opened, despite the chaos caused over the last
year from the flood in refugees fleeing Syria. (Hundreds of migrants are pictured at the Hungarian and Austrian
border last year.)

'We have to fight against nationalism. We have the duty not to follow populists but to block the avenue of populists.'

The embattled EU Commission president described Brexit as an 'unheard-of political crisis' for the EU but told EU member states that the only way of overcoming the challenge of Britain leaving would be to remain as one.

'In the concentration of globalisation and European problems, we must not lose our way,' he said.

Downing Street said Mr Juncker's views on borders were 'not something that the Prime Minister would agree with.'

The Prime Minister's spokeswoman added: 'Indeed, you've heard the Prime Minister talk about the views that the British people expressed in the referendum and that the British people think that borders are important, having more control of our borders is important and that's an issue we need to address.'


Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (pictured left) will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel (right) and
French President Francois Hollande on the island of Ventotene, off the coast of Naples, for crucial talks about
post-Brexit Europe today.
 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (pictured left) and French President Francois Hollande (right) are travelling
to the tiny Italian island of Ventotene today to discuss Europe's future.

Mr Juncker was speaking as the leaders of Germany, France and Italy met for crisis talks today as they plot to save the EU in the wake of Brexit.

The aim of the summit held on the Italian island of Ventotene is to demonstrate the unity of Europe's three biggest countries but it is likely to attract questions over the elitist nature of the meeting.

It is the first in a number of intense summits of talks between European leaders, who are returning from their summer holidays to forge a new way forward after Britain's dramatic decision to quit the EU.

The meeting will also tackle the ongoing refugee crisis, Europe's economic woes and security in the wake of the string of terror attacks that hit French and German cities last month.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is hosting the meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande.

The location of the exclusive meeting is hugely symbolic; Ventotene was seen as playing a part in the formation of the EU.

One of the EU's founding fathers, Altiero Spinelli, wrote a manifesto for a federal Europe while he was imprisoned on the island off the coast of Naples during the second world war.

A French diplomatic source told the Guardian the summit aims 'to show the unity of Europe's three biggest countries, but not to create a specific club.'