"Yes, Europe is a garden." Borrell told aspiring European diplomats in the Belgian city of Bruges. "We have built a garden. Everything works. It is the best combination of political freedom, economic prosperity and social cohesion that the humankind has been able to build — the three things together."
"Most of the rest of the world is a jungle, and the jungle could invade the garden," he added, calling the young European diplomats "gardeners" who "have to go to the jungle. Europeans have to be much more engaged with the rest of the world. Otherwise, the rest of the world will invade us, by different ways and means."
The comments were scripted, and it wasn't the first time he made them. He had employed the jungle metaphor in more limited remarks in August.
On Monday, Borrell stood by his comments, insisting he had been misunderstood.
He said Europe was a privileged place to live and that his message to the aspiring diplomats was to cultivate relationships outside it, because it cannot be "an island in the world away from what was going on elsewhere."
"I do not understand the interpretation that has been given to what I said, I certainly do not share the allegation that it is somehow imperialist, white supremacist or a retrograde message," Borrell told reporters in Luxembourg on Monday.
"To continue the analogy, the European gardener is in a vegetative state," she quipped on Telegram. "And now seriously. The 'garden' was built by Europe due to the barbaric attitude to the plundering of the 'jungle.' Borrell could not say it better: the most prosperous system created in Europe was nourished by its roots from the colonies, which it ruthlessly oppressed," she added.
French Strike May Presage a Winter of Discontent 法煉油廠大罷工 預警歐洲領導人凜冬將至
文/Catherine Porter、Constant M
Across France, a third of the gas stations are fully or partly dry, victims of a fast-widening strike that has spread to most of the country's major oil refineries, as well as some nuclear plants and railways, offering a preview of a winter of discontent as inflation and energy shortages threaten to undercut Europe's stability and its united front against Russia for its war in Ukraine.
At the very least the strike — pitting refinery workers seeking a greater share of the surging profits against oil giants TotalEnergies and Exxon Mobil — has already emerged as the first major social crisis of Emmanuel Macron's second term as president, as calls grow for a general strike.
The widening social unrest is just what European leaders fear as inflation hits its highest level in decades, driven in part by snarls in pandemic global supply chains, but also by the mounting impact of the tit-for-tat economic battle between Europe and Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
Economic anxiety is palpable across Europe, driving large protests in Prague, Britain's biggest railway strike in three decades, as well as walkouts by bus drivers, call center employees and criminal defense lawyers, and causing many governments to introduce relief measures to cushion the blow and ward off still more turbulence. Airline workers in Spain and Germany went on strike recently, demanding wage increases to reflect the rising cost of living.
Workers at half of France's eight refineries are continuing to picket for higher wages in line with inflation, as well as a cut of the sky-high profits their companies made over recent months, as the price of gasoline has surged.
Earlier last week, Exxon Mobil announced that it had come to an agreement with two of four unions working at its sites. But the wage increase was 1 percentage point less, and half the bonus, that Confédération Générale du Travail, or CGT, France's second-largest union, had demanded.
On Friday, two unions at TotalEnergies announced they had reached a deal for a 7% wage increase and a bonus. But CGT, which has demanded a 10% hike, walked out of the negotiation and said it would continue the strike.