The pope was speaking to around 700 MEPs in Strasbourg and said the Mediterranean was in danger of becoming “a vast graveyard,” due to the hundreds of people who have drowned trying to reach the other side.
But is he right? What awaits immigrants when they come to different EU countries?
According to recent data from Eurostat, non-EU citizens are twice as likely to be at risk of poverty or social exclusion than nationals in 2013, the most recent year for which there is data.
Across the EU 28, 48.7 per cent of non-EU citizens were at risk. As ever, there are large differneces in the fortunes of migrants depending on their chosen destination. Here is a chart showing the 10 countries where non-EU citizens are most at risk. We’ve included the UK for reference.
And the 10 where they are least at risk. Notice how the percentage of non-EU citizens at risk is always higher than the national population.
The European Union is supposed to support freedom of movement, but citizens of other EU states are far worse off than nationals, although better off than non-EU citizens.
Other measures used in the report included overcrowding. In Italy and Greece, both popular locations for migrants from North African countries, 55.7 per cent and 51.3 per cent of non-EU citizens were living in overcrowded conditions. For many, the EU project is no brave new world. The pope would no doubt argue that countries should do more to care for those that arrive on their doorsteps.