June 27, 2018 / 11:37 AM / 5 months ago

EU's Tusk sees stakes 'very high' in migration row ahead of summit

FILE PHOTO: European Union Council President Donald Tusk and Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven (not pictured) hold a news conference at the government headquarters Rosenbad in Stockholm, Sweden June 19, 2018. TT News Agency/Erik Simander/via REUTERS/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The chairman of European Union leaders’ talks, Donald Tusk, said on Wednesday he wanted the Thursday to Friday summit in Brussels to agree three new measures to control migration better.

In his invitation letter to EU leaders for their summit this Thursday and Friday, Tusk said he wanted them to endorse setting up “regional disembarkation platforms outside Europe” for migrants and refugees and setting aside money specifically for combating illegal migration in the bloc’s next seven-year budget from 2021.

The third element was working more with third countries, such as Libya, to prevent people from trying to reach Europe.

Tusk said solid protection of the bloc’s external borders was a must and that the EU’s failure to enforce that since the migration crisis peaked in 2015 had led allowed groups to spring up that “offer simple answers to the most complicated questions. Simple, radical and attractive.”

“The migration crisis provides them with a growing number of arguments. More and more people are starting to believe that only strong-handed authority, anti-European and anti-liberal in spirit, with a tendency toward overt authoritarianism, is capable of stopping the wave of illegal migration.”

“If people believe them, that only they can offer an effective solution to the migration crisis, they will also believe anything else they say. The stakes are very high. And time is short,” Tusk said.

The summit will also discuss EU’s fraught ties with traditional ally, the United States.

“Transatlantic relations are under immense pressure due to the policies of President Trump,” Tusk said.

Reporting Robert-Jan Bartunek, writing by Gabriela Baczynska; editing by Philip Blenkinsop

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