Strasbourg (France), Sep 12 (IANS) The EU plans to send 10,000 more border guards to tackle unlawful immigration by 2020, the European Commission’s President Jean-Claude Juncker said in his annual state of the union address on Wednesday.
The Luxembourg politician, whose tenure as head of the European Union’s executive arm is to end in 2019, called for more solidarity, rather than “ad-hoc solutions” for people on migrant ships, the BBC reported.
His speech also tackled the region’s other burning issues like populism, terrorism and Brexit. He also proposed a new Africa-Europe alliance, based on co-operation rather than charity, leading to a continent-to-continent free trade agreement.
Juncker recommended that the euro be used more strategically as the biggest currency after the dollar.
“The euro must become the face and the instrument of a new, more sovereign Europe. It is now the second most used currency in the world with 60 countries linking their currencies to the euro in one way or another,” he said.
On Brexit, he offered some support to British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Chequers plan, agreeing that the starting point for future partnership should be a free trade area between the EU and the UK.
He also emphasised the union’s support for Ireland. “We want to find a creative solution that prevents a hard border in Northern Ireland. But we will equally be very outspoken should the British government walk away from its responsibilities under the Good Friday Agreement.”
During his address, Juncker appealed for a comprehensive rejection of divisive nationalism. He told members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg that Europe should instead embrace a positive form of patriotism.
“We should reject the kind of exaggerated nationalism that projects hate and destroys all in its path. The kind of nationalism that points the finger at others instead of searching for ways to better live together,” the 63-year-old said.
In the speech that hammered home the need for a united and strong Europe, Juncker spurned what he termed “selfish unilateralist politics”.
“I will always champion multilateralism,” he said.
His address came at a time when far-right and eurosceptic parties were slowly entering gaining a foothold in mainstream European politics and trade spats clouded historically close relations between the EU and the US under President Donald Trump, the report said.
Talking about security, he said: “We will not militarise the EU. What we want is to become more autonomous and live up to our global responsibilities.
“Only a strong and united Europe can protect our citizens against threats internal and external – from terrorism to climate change.”