Europe in “race against time” to save open borders – EU’s Tusk

European Council President Donald Tusk says Europe is in a “race against time” to save its system of passport-free travel, EU leaders offer Africa aid, visas for migrant help.

VALLETTA, MALTA (NOVEMBER 12, 2015) (HOST BROADCASTER) – Europe is in a “race against time” to save its system of passport-free travel and must move fast to tighten control of migration over its external borders, European Council President Donald Tusk said on Thursday (November 12).

Citing Sweden’s move to reimpose checks on arrivals from other EU countries, as well as new measures in Germany and Slovenia, he told a news conference at a summit on migration on Malta that these showed the pressure EU states were under.

“The recent developments in Germany, in Sweden, in Slovenia, and in other countries, all show with utmost clarity the huge pressure member states are facing. Saving Schengen is a race against time. And we are determined to win that race,” Tusk said, speaking of the open border system among European states.

Tusk’s comments came after a summit with African leaders that will be followed by an emergency EU summit later on Thursday in Valletta to discuss migration, and notably efforts to secure a deal with Turkey to slow departures.

The EU-Africa summit agreed to launch a trust fund for Africa, based on 1.8 billion euros to combat migration. As well as aid, EU leaders offered African countries better access to Europe in return for help curbing chaotic migration, and promises to take back more of those whom Europe expels.

A 17-page Action Plan sets out dozens of initiatives. Many build on decades of stuttering cooperation between the world’s poorest continent and wealthy-but-ageing Europe.

“The elements of the action plan are designed to: one, address the root causes of migration. Two, enhance cooperation on legal migration and mobility. Three, reinforce protection of displaced persons. Four, prevent and fight against migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings. And five, advance on returning persons that are not entitled to stay in Europe,” Tusk said.

Senegalese President Macky Sall told reporters he was pleased with the outcome of the summit, but said that if Africa tackled bad governance and corruption, it would no longer need financial support.

“It’s precisely by acting around this question that Africa will have enough resources. We could absolutely do without aid. If we take tax evasion and the fraudulent flow of resources from Africa, which is estimated at more than 60 billion dollars a year, taking back just 17% of these resources would enable us to avoid having to call for public development aid and would even enable us to completely reimburse our debts,” he said.

Last week, the European Commission said it expected some 3 million asylum seekers to arrive in the EU by 2017 and that, if they were integrated into the workforce, they would boost the EU’s economic output and even improve public finances in the longer term.