The European People’s Party (EPP) leaders met today in Salzburg ahead of the informal meeting of EU heads of state and government. During the summit, co-hosted by EPP Austrian member party Die Neue Volkspartei, the leaders discussed security and migration, two of the priorities of the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, spearheaded by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

In the margins of the meeting EPP President Joseph Daul made the following statement.

“Citizens across the EU are demanding sustainable and long-term solutions to the migratory pressure on Europe. The best way to fulfil the EU’s humanitarian obligation to help people in need of international protection is by helping them in their countries of origin and transit.  At the same time, we must fight illegal migration. By preventing people from crossing the Mediterranean and fighting human trafficking, the further development of the concept of disembarkation arrangements is an important step to achieving this goal.  We need to further secure our external borders and we thus welcome the decision of the European Commission to increase the European Border and Coast Guard to 10 000 members by 2020. We must also reinforce our ties with Africa and boost investing in the continent so that their people have a better future at home.”

The EPP leaders also discussed Brexit and reiterated their unequivocal support to Ireland and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to avoid reinstating a hard border with Northern Ireland.

“The clock is ticking and we are getting dangerously close to the exit deadline on 29 March 2019. A no deal Brexit would have grave consequences for the British and European citizens. The UK must make its position clear. Their internal divisions must not obstruct an agreement. Led by Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier, the EU has put forward a coherent path to achieving a deal within the framework of EU law,“ stated EPP President Daul.

The EPP leaders also welcomed new Partido Popular President Pablo Casado who attended the party summit for the first time.