The future of Europe depends on its management of security issues and migration, European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said on Friday, while stressing that the two issues must not be confused. According to the Commissioner, this was something "that populists do" in order to undermine Europe.

Avramopoulos was speaking at an event organised in Athens on Thursday and Friday by the Commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs (CIVEX) of the European Committee of the Regions to explore the role of local authorities on these issues.

"It is time to put solidarity - which is referred to 17 times in the founding treaties of the European Union - into action," Avramopoulos said, noting that Europe currently suffered from a "trust deficit".

He pointed out that Europe and especially Greece had managed to successfully cope with a very large migration wave in the 1990s, after the collapse of the Iron Curtain and the opening of borders in Eastern Europe.

Referring to the rise of populism in Europe, the Commissioner said that some were trying to lead the EU back "to a dark past" and stressed that all sides had a duty to complete the process of European integration, suggesting that resistance to this prospect came from the "deep state" in certain member-states.

The conference focused on security issues and how to approach the challenges they pose on a municipal, regional and European level, as well as the role of local authorities in efforts to integrate migrants.