After another record low turnout at the European elections earlier this year, Pope Francis delivered an address on Tuesday which was scathing in its criticism of the EU.
The pontiff told MEPs that the European institutions were “old” and “aloof”, breeding mistrust amongst citizens by enacting policies that were “downright harmful”.
“The great ideals that inspired Europe seem to have lost its attractiveness and have given place to bureaucratic technicalities,” Pope Francis said.
The 77-year-old Argentine also said the EU must balance the need for economic reform and social justice.
“This implies, on the one hand, finding new ways of joining market flexibility with the need for stability and security on the part of workers; these are indispensable for their human development.”
Pope Francis has been a vocal critic of austerity in Europe since taking up the papacy; he has also hit out at corporate greed and consumerism.
But the pontiff reserved his strongest criticism for how Europe treats migrants and refugees.
“We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast cemetery. The boats landing daily on the shores of Europe are filled with men and women who need acceptance and assistance,” he said.
One of his first visits as pope was to the Italian island of Lampedusa where he saw first-hand the suffering of would-be migrants who had travelled from Africa to Europe’s shores.