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Center-right grouping proposes tough security offer for EU election

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Europes largest political grouping will propose creating an EU army by 2030, external borders policed by drones and with fences, and a block on EU membership for Turkey, according to a draft policy document obtained by POLITICO.

According to a draft of the center-right European Peoples Partys priorities, the group, which currently has 219 seats in the European Parliament, plans to put forward a tougher approach on security to limit a shift by its voters toward anti-migration parties to its right. The EPP is currently discussing its campaign strategy ahead of the European election in May 2019.

Members of the EPP have not approved the document, entitled “EPP group priorities,” which is primarily a thought-provoking draft “meant to stir up an internal debate inside the group,” a Parliament official said.

The text is split into four sections — “Protecting, preserving, creating, empowering” — and mentions the need to “have the systematic right to immediately send a pool of officers to borders” or to “build fences where needed,” as well as “equip our borders with the latest technology — including drones — accompanied by at least 10,000 new officers.”

It also proposes the development of an EU army by 2030, “starting with a cyberbrigade within 2 years to fight misinformation, cyberattacks and terrorism.”

Manfred Weber said the EPP would be “really ambitious” on migration issues.

The EPP text also wants the EU to withhold visas for countries outside the EU that refuse to take back illegal migrants, to “say NO” to Turkeys membership of the EU and “abolish” 1,000 outdated pieces of legislation.

“The success of Europe will depend on our ability to protect its citizens, preserve the European way of life, create new hope and empower the European continent,” the text says. “To achieve these goals, we do not need fear or blame games; we need values, ambition and hope.”

On Tuesday, the EPP leader in the Parliament, Manfred Weber, told reporters that his group would be “really ambitious” on migration issues. “It is not inhuman to ask for a border check,” Weber said, adding that a “separation” needs to be made “between illegal migrants and refugees.”

But the text is already receiving critical comments from some EPP members who consider some of these proposals too far-reaching and going against the EUs principle of free movement within Europe.

A refugee carries a bucket to fill with water at the Moria refugee camp in Mytilene, Greece | Adam Berry/Getty Images

“Build fences: That is Trump-speak,” said Gunnar Hökmark, a Swedish member of the EPP.

“This is not something we should advertise,” Hökmark added. “By being a leader, we can be strong and firm, control our borders with the rule of law and respect for those who need protection.”

On the need to end Turkeys membership ambitions, Hökmark said it is “obvious” that negotiations cant be held “with the Turkey of today.”

“But time is long and we all have interests in being able to cope with a democracy rather than a regime like the current one,” he said.

A Parliament official said the document would likely be modified, as “the goal is to stir up an internal debate on items that will need to be confronted during the election campaign.”

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