Donald Tusk says EU summit will focus on European border

Tusk said that the "migration crisis" has exposed "weakness and chaos" in the EU's border security.

Protesters shout slogans during anti-immigrant rally in front of the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland February 6, 2016. (Kacper Pempel/Reuters)

Protesters shout slogans during anti-immigrant rally in front of the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland February 6, 2016. (Kacper Pempel/Reuters)

WARSAW, Poland — European Council President Donald Tusk said Tuesday he wants an upcoming informal EU summit to assure participants that Europe can effectively defend its borders.

Tusk said that the “migration crisis” has exposed “weakness and chaos” in the EU’s border security.

He spoke in Warsaw following a meeting with Poland’s Prime Minister Beata Szydlo as he was sounding out opinion in EU capitals three days before the informal summit in Slovakia’s capital Bratislava. At the summit, prime ministers from the member states, except from the U.K., will discuss the EU’s future after Britain leaves.

Tusk, a former Polish prime minister who now chairs the meetings of EU leaders, said he was focused on European stability and would like the summit to convince its participants that “Europe is capable to effectively control and defend its external borders.”

Szydlo’s spokesman, Rafal Bochenek, said that during their meeting the prime minister told Tusk that Poland will be pushing for a green light for deep political and economic reforms. She earlier said the EU might need to change its treaties, the documents regulating the way it functions.

Tusk said he was trying to convince Szydlo that Europe is “something worth being jointly taken care of rather than attacked or questioned.”

Poland and countries in central and eastern Europe have been insisting on bold reforms, including changes to the EU treaty. They say that the EU is authoritarian toward its member states, leaving no room for their own political decisions, and blame that for Britain’s decision to leave in a June referendum.

A major sticking point is that Poland and other countries in the region are refusing to accept set numbers of migrants under an EU plan. These countries insist that the EU’s external borders should be strengthened and protected, and that migrants should be helped in refugee camps close to their home countries.

In a recent interview, Szydlo said that if the EU is to be “saved,” its members “must introduce reforms, be bold and not afraid.”

“We are not afraid to say that we need to see the need to change the treaties,” Szydlo told the PAP news agency last week.

Szydlo’s conservative government is at odds with the EU, which says Poland’s democracy and rule of law are threatened by the government’s push to influence a major court and give police more surveillance power. The government retorts that EU bodies should focus on bigger EU problems.

The tensions also mar Szydlo’s relations with Tusk, as they represent Poland’s bitterly opposed political parties. The government accuses Tusk of failing to defend Poland’s interests in the EU.

Raf Casert in Brussels contributed to this report.

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