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[Published: Wednesday September 12 2018]

 EU plans new Africa alliance

BRUSSELS 12 Sep (ANA) - The EU plans to send 10,000 more border guards to tackle unlawful immigration by 2020, the European Commission's president Jean-Claude Juncker said in his annual state of the union address.

He called for more solidarity, rather than "ad-hoc solutions" for people on migrant ships.

His speech also tackled the region's other burning issues - populism, terrorism and Brexit.

This is Mr Juncker's last 12 months in the role.

He also proposed a new Africa-Europe alliance, based on co-operation rather than charity, leading to a continent-to-continent free trade agreement.

He recommended that the euro be used more strategically as the biggest currency after the dollar.

And he called for strong leadership on Brexit. "The United Kingdom will never be an ordinary third country for us," he said.

Mr Juncker said the EU needed to be secure from the many threats that faced it.

"We will not militarise the European Union. What we want is to become more autonomous and live up to our global responsibilities," he said.

"Only a strong and united Europe can protect our citizens against threats internal and external - from terrorism to climate change."

As well as the increased border guards, he committed to further developing the European Asylum Agency to offer more support to member states processing asylum seekers.

He stressed a need for legal routes for migration into Europe. "We need skilled migrants," he said.

Mr Juncker offered some support to British Prime Minister Theresa May's Chequers plan, agreeing that the starting point for future partnership should be a free trade area between the EU and the UK.

He also emphasised the union's support for Ireland. "We want to find a creative solution that prevents a hard border in Northern Ireland. But we will equally be very outspoken should the British government walk away from its responsibilities under the Good Friday Agreement."

On terrorism
There will be "new rules to get terrorist content off the web within one hour".

On the economy
"Europe's economy has now grown for 21 consecutive quarters… Never have so many men and women - 239 million people - been in work in Europe," Mr Juncker said.

"Youth unemployment is at 14.8%. This is still too high a figure but is the lowest it has been since the year 2000."

On clock changes
"Clock-changing must stop," the EU Commission president said, announcing an end to EU laws insisting countries change their clocks twice a year. "Member States should themselves decide whether their citizens live in summer or winter time." (ANA)
FA/ANA/12 September 2018--------

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