EU leaders to discuss new plans on external borders, migration management

EU leaders to discuss new plans on external borders, migration management

EU summit kicks off with Ukraine, migration and relations with China as main topics on agenda

By Agnes Szucs

BRUSSELS (AA) – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Thursday that she would present new plans to European Union leaders on strengthening the bloc’s external borders and managing migration, including financial support to countries of origin.

The 27 EU heads of state and government are holding a two-day summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday to discuss the situation in Ukraine, migration challenges, EU competitiveness and relations with China.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg participated in a working lunch with EU leaders, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy joined them by video link.

On the way to the meeting, von der Leyen told reporters she would present three reports to EU leaders.

One plan seeks to harmonize external border management so that it is carried out in a similar way by all EU countries, she said.

The second report suggests new action against smugglers and traffickers as the recent “tragedy in the Mediterranean showed again the ruthless way smugglers and traffickers are operating,” von der Leyen added.

“The third is about investment in the economic stability of countries of origin.”

According to the Politico news outlet, the German government is pushing for a “revival” of relations with Türkiye and the EU is preparing a €10.5 billion ($11.5 billion) financial package for Türkiye, Tunisia and Libya.

On the way to the summit, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also underlined the importance of “migration partnerships” with non-EU countries and promised that his country will play a “very decisive role” in these agreements.

- Mutiny of Wagner Group

Despite recent events in Russia not being on the official agenda of the summit, several politicians commented on the aborted uprising by Russia’s paramilitary Wagner Group.

Von der Leyen stressed that the events highlighted “deep cracks” in the Russian political system and warned of the “aftershocks” of the mutiny, including migration from Africa.

“The erosion of Wagner will not only play a role in Ukraine but will also play a role in Africa because (Russian President Vladimir) Putin has projected his power through” the mercenaries, she said.

For his part, European Council President Charles Michel said the EU countries on one hand and EU and NATO on the other hand stand in “very strong unity” in contrast to the disunity in Russia.

Scholz asserted that the EU must keep supporting Ukraine, as the war can still “last a long time” despite the recent uprising in Russia.

He said the goal is to ensure the independence of Ukraine and not “a change of government, a regime change in Russia.”

He also stressed that it was “irresponsible” to outsource military power to “private hands” and that Wagner soldiers committed “unforgivable” crimes in Ukraine and Africa.

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