EU's Juncker eyes Africa free trade pact

Alfred Osborne
September 13, 2018

FILE PHOTO: President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker speaks about trade relations with U.S. President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 25, 2018.

Nigel Farage accused Jean-Claude Juncker of being "away with the fairies" and accused the European Union of trying to grab more and more power.

He said the EU's executive Commission is proposing a standing corps for the border and coast guard agency numbering 10,000 staff, including guards and migration experts, to be up and running by 2020.

"External borders must be protected more effectively", Juncker told EU lawmakers in Strasbourg, France, in a self-styled "state of the European Union" address.

The EPP is due to be launched by 2021, tasked with tackling cross-border fraud involving the European Union budget and value-added tax.

Twitter (TWTR) and YouTube owner Google (GOOGL) had already agreed to work with the European Union on a voluntary basis to tackle the problem.

Juncker renewed calls for states to push ahead in developing an European Union defense capability independent of the USA -led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance and to embrace Africa through investment and a sweeping new free trade area - part of a strategy to curb the flow of poor African migrants which has set European Union governments at each other's throats and fueled a sharp rise in anti-EU nationalism.

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The latest tensions flared over decisions by Italy, which has a new populist anti-migration government, to turn away rescue ships carrying African migrants.

But EU nations still have to endorse his plans.

"There is no place for terrorism on Facebook, and we share the goal of the European Commission to fight it, and believe that it is only through a common effort across companies, civil society and institutions that results can be achieved", a Facebook spokesperson said, noting that the company has made strides in improving its crackdown on terror content.

'With every new ship we can't be talking about ad-hoc solutions for the people on board, ' Juncker said. "What we want is to become more autonomous and live up to our global responsibilities". 'We need a lot more.

The border and asylum agencies would help identify those to be returned, obtain travel documents - often a time-consuming business - and prepare the paperwork so countries can send them back.

But Juncker's direction of travel was clear.

In his speech today Juncker also called for a "new alliance" with Africa that would create millions of jobs and include a free trade deal.

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