The EU’s former chief Brexit negotiator and well-known liberal politician, Michel Barnier, has called for a nearly total halt to all immigration into Europe for up to 5 years, saying the EU’s borders are “like a sieve.”

Speaking to French media, Barnier insisted that immigration in the EU is “not working.”

“I think we have to take the time for three or five years to suspend immigration,” he said.

“I’m not talking about students or refugees, who we need to treat with humanity and care. But we need to examine all the procedures, we have to discuss Schengen with our neighbours. We have to apply controls on borders, we need to be more rigorous.”

The French native added that there were “links” between immigration and “terrorist networks that infiltrate migrational flows”, citing human trafficking as a major concern.

Asked if these remarks could damage his reputation as a “moderate”, Barnier replied that “The problems of immigration are not moderate. I know, as the politician that I am, to see the problems how they are and how French people experience them and to find solutions.”

Additionally, Barnier mentioned plans already put in place by the EU to give its border control agency, Frontex, the power to deport illegal migrants, and the addition of 10,000 new personnel to this end.

Barnier has, in the past, been a strong advocate for lax border controls.