Juncker presses European Council presidency on migration reform

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, September 13, 2018
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STRASBOURG, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- In his State of the Union Address, Wednesday in Strasbourg, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called on the European Council Presidency to take action on meaningful migration policy reform, and to put an end to improvised solutions.

"We cannot continue to squabble to find ad-hoc solutions each time a new ship arrives," the European Commission president told Members of European Parliament, stressing that, "Temporary solidarity is not good enough. We need lasting solidarity -- today and forever more."

"Leadership and a spirit of compromise are of course very much needed when it comes to migration," Juncker said.

Calling on the European Council presidency, currently held by Austria, Juncker appealed for a "decisive step to broker a sustainable solution on a balanced migration reform," in his last State of the Union Address before European elections in 2019.

In the speech which may impact his legacy, as the European Commission president enters into his last 12 months in office, Juncker emphasized that his administration had made better progress on the migration issue than is often noted.

"Five of the seven Commission's proposals to reform our Common European Asylum System have been agreed," he said. He also celebrated that "arrivals have been drastically reduced -- down 97 percent in the Eastern Mediterranean and 80 percent in the Central Mediterranean," and that "EU operations have helped rescue over 690,000 people at sea since 2015."

Juncker argued in his address, however, that member states had "not yet found the right balance between the responsibility each must assume on its own territory; and the solidarity all must show if we are to get back to a Schengen area without internal borders."

He voiced his strict opposition to internal borders, and called for all borders reinstated within the Schengen zone to be taken down: "Failure to do so would amount to an unacceptable step back for the Europe of today and tomorrow."

In a look to the future, the European Commission president proposed strengthening Europe's external borders in part by reinforcing the European Boarder and Coast Guard. The Commission will propose deploying an additional 10,000 European border guards by 2020.

The Commission will also propose further development of the European Asylum Agency, to ensure EU member states have European support in processing asylum requests in manners that meet with Geneva Convention guidelines.

Juncker also proposed an acceleration of returns for irregular migrants, and providing European Commission support to member states.

Finally, he also reminded member states of the need to provide legal means to migrate to the EU, so that member states will still have access to skilled migrants. The European Commission has already made proposals on the matter that have yet to be acted on fully by other European institutions. Enditem

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