There is no reason to turn against refugees after the Brussels terrorist attacks, the European Commission said Wednesday, after several right-wing politicians called for tougher migration policies.
Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, for example, said that after the events in Belgium, Warsaw is no longer prepared to take in an agreed quota of 7,500 asylum seekers as part of a burden sharing scheme agreed by the European Union.
However, EU Migration and Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told reporters in Brussels there should be no confusion between the two parallel, but clearly separate, crises the bloc is facing on security and migration.
"Those people who arrive on our shores are precisely fleeing the same terror that has struck us right here in heart of Europe. To antagonize those seeking protection would be giving in to the hatred and division that terrorists seek to sow," Avramopoulos said.
EU commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, in charge of budget and personnel issues, also spoke out against pointing the finger at refugees.
"We will continue to be open and tolerant, understanding that religious extremists do no speak for an entire religion and understanding also that many of those who seek refuge in Europe are running from the same extremists that have hurt us here in Brussels," she said.
Avramopoulos, however, said EU governments needed to step up intelligence cooperation, crack down on black market weapons and forged and stolen documents, and tighten controls at the EU's external borders.
"If now is not the time to step up cooperation, then I don't really know when it is. It is beyond time to get serious about security," he said.
On Tuesday, a European Parliament member for British anti-EU party UKIP, Mike Hookem, issued a statement claiming that terrorist killings in Brussels were "a result of Schengen free movement and lax border controls."
Hookem cited EU police agency Europol as estimating that "5,000 jihadists" from Syria are "at large" in the bloc, including 94 in the infamous Brussels neighbourhood of Molenbeek, already linked to the Paris November 13 attacks.