Bill Carmichael: Migrant crisis may prove to be the EU’s endgame

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IT has been an important occasion for our unelected, unaccountable leader this week – no, I don’t mean the Queen who became our longest reigning monarch, but the President of the European Commission who has executive powers Elizabeth II could only dream of.

In a speech before the European Parliament Jean-Claude Juncker laid out in vivid detail the imperialistic ambitions of the EU superstate – including increasingly centralised power in Brussels, whether the constituent states of the EU like it or not.

No doubt in a conscious echo of the great set-piece ceremonies given by US presidents, Juncker’s speech was described as a “state of the union address”.

There is a key difference though – American presidents are subject to the will of the people, something Juncker will never have to worry about.

He loftily informed countries in eastern Europe that they would have to accept a quota of the Syrian refugees invited into the EU by German chancellor Angela Merkel – 160,000 to start with.

Refusal is not an option he said, regardless of the views of their national parliaments or their citizens. EU countries that refuse to obey the Brussels diktat will face swingeing fines.

The UK has an opt out of this quota system – for now – but Juncker was clear that his ambition is to force Britons to bow the knee too.

It is only a matter of time if we remain an EU member.

Merkel made a blunder of stupendous proportions when she announced she was offering no-questions-asked asylum to Syrians, or anybody who claimed to be Syrian.

It was a bit like the 14-year-old whose parents are away for the weekend who announces a house party on Facebook, resulting in thousands of teenagers turning up to trash the place.

The result of Merkel’s offer, besides being a terrific boost to the people trafficking industry, is a bare minimum of half a million migrants a year – and probably a lot more - heading to Germany for the foreseeable future. Tens of millions could arrive over the next few years.

Even Merkel can now see this is an unmitigated disaster and is simply not sustainable, so she and Juncker are trying to force the rest of the EU to “take their share”.

Not unreasonably, the leaders of Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, countries much poorer than Germany, are asking why the hell they should pay the price for Merkel’s reckless folly?

Merkel invited the migrants in, so is it not entirely fair that prosperous Germany should accommodate them? But the EU doesn’t work like that. Berlin and Brussels make the rules and break them when it suits. Despite Juncker’s lofty talk of “solidarity”, expect blood on the carpet when EU leaders meet to discuss the issue next week.

The problem with this plan is not just that it is entirely undemocratic, but it just will not work.

Why not? Well just imagine you are a migrant from Syria, Afghanistan or Libya, and you have just arrived at the German border having paid £5,000 to people traffickers and endured a dangerous and exhausting journey.

You are now told that under the EU’s new migrant distribution scheme you have been allotted as part of the quota to settle in Slovakia, Bulgaria or Hungary.

Now these are perfectly safe countries and can offer refuge, but they are also comparatively poor and there is no welfare state to speak of. There is no such thing as “free” housing, education, health care or cash benefits.

So now you have the right to settle in Europe what are you going to do? Are you going to try and scratch a living among the EU’s poorest countries, or are you going to hop on a train to the benefits El Dorado that is Berlin, Stockholm, Amsterdam or London? No contest is there? That is why the whole idea is doomed to failure.

The entire situation is rapidly turning into a debacle of quite epic proportions, and Merkel’s intervention has simply made things 100 times worse.

The EU has seen a series of crises in recent years – the doomed euro, the debt problem (which hasn’t gone away), the shameful bullying of Greece and the deliberate impoverishment of its people – and I wonder if this escalating migrant shambles will prove to be the one crisis that finally rents the EU asunder?