The European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has proposed a new alliance with Africa to deepen economic relations and boost investment and jobs.
The proposal could help create up to 10 million jobs in Africa in the next five years alone, Mr Juncker said.
The vision involves what he calls a “continent-to-continent” free-trade agreement.
It is part of the European Union plan to deepen ties with Africa to counter the growing influence of China.
Controlling immigration from Africa to Europe
Jean-Claude Juncker also unveiled new plans to beef up the European Union’s coastguard and asylum agency to better police Europe’s outside borders and speed the deportation of unauthorised migrants.
The proposals come as EU nations bicker over who should take responsibility for people rescued in the Mediterranean Sea, even as the number of crossings has declined sharply this year.
He said the EU’s executive Commission is proposing a standing corps for the border and coastguard agency numbering 10,000 staff, including guards and migration experts, to be up and running by 2020. Juncker said the corps should be funded by some €2.2 billion euros (US$2.5 billion) in EU money from the bloc’s next long-term budget. But EU nations still have to endorse his plans.
The border and coastguard staff would be able to check ID papers and stamp travel documents, detain people who are crossing the border without authorisation, and help ensure those not eligible are deported.
Many nations have expressed concern about having their borders policed by staff from other countries, even if they are European partners.
In recent months, Italy’s new anti-migrant government has refused to allow some ships carrying rescued people to enter its waters, routinely leaving the boats stranded at sea for days while a short-term solution is found.
“With every new ship we can’t be talking about ad-hoc solutions for the people on board,” Juncker said. “We need a lot more. We need more solidarity, and solidarity must be lasting and organised.”
EU leaders meet in Salzburg, Austria, next week to thrash out better ways to manage the arrivals, many reaching Italy from lawless Libya.