As Austria prepares for its rotation of the European Union presidency, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani has called on the country’s conservative leader Sebastian Kurz to solve Europe’s “migration challenge”.

“It’s putting at risk the very future of the European Union,” said Tajani after meeting with Kurz in Vienna. “In the next six months, under the coordination of the Austrian Presidency, the EU and its Member States are called to give concrete answers to the concerns of 500 million citizens. We cannot afford to fail’.”

According to Tajani, there is no solution to this challenge short of an EU approach based on a short, medium and long-term common migration strategy. “We need to provide for €6bn to stop departures with immediate effect from North Africa, just as we did with the Balkan route. In parallel, we have to support Libya in its stabilisation and democratisation process. We also need to secure €40bn for an ambitious Marshall Plan for Africa targeted at creating opportunities for young Africans in their countries.”

Tajani also met with Austria’s President Alexander Van der Bellen. After the meeting, he stressed the importance that Austria continues to play its leverage role towards Eastern Europe and the Balkans. “Austria – said Tajani – should be regarded as a true European success story, having benefitted enormously from membership and enlargement. I am confident that the Austrian Presidency will succeed in strengthening the European neighbourhood’s stability, and in giving a clear EU perspective to the Western Balkans”.

The European Parliament’s Conference of Presidents met also with representatives of the Austrian National Parliament and participated in a debate at the University of Vienna.

It was at the university where he made the following statement: “The dynamic debate in which we took part makes me optimistic and should motivate us to work harder to deliver for young people. We have to create employment by investing in digital technologies, creative industries and tourism”.