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The Daily Mirror of the Great Britain

EU is not eternal! Verhofstadt says crisis calls for reforms in Brussels

The Belgian MEP raised serious concerns about the political crisis in Eastern Europe and suggested this could affect the future of the bloc by stating the “EU is not eternal”. The 68-year-old was speaking about the importance of the Conference on the Future of Europe – a platform to enable citizens to lead the debate about issues facing the continent.

In a post on Twitter, Mr Verhofstadt stressed Brussels needed to reform its laws, security and borders.

He wrote: “Everything happening around Ukraine is proof that we need the Conference on the Future of Europe. The EU is not eternal.

“We need to reform how we tackle rule of law, security & defence to secure our EU impact in and around our borders.”

The intervention by Mr Verhofstadt comes as Vladimir Putin continues to deploy thousands of troops to the Ukrainian border.

US intelligence sources suggested an invasion of more than 100,000 Russian soldiers could take place as early as next month.

Tensions between Ukrainian military personnel and Russian-backed separatists in the east of the country continue to soar to a level not seen since Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014.

The EU is also gripped by a migrant crisis at the border between Belarus and Poland.

Minsk is accused of facilitating the illegal flow of mostly Middle Eastern refugees into the EU via member states Poland and Lithuania.

Mr Verhofstadt has previously warned that Moscow faces sanctions from the EU and Nato if things escalate.

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The Russian foreign ministry said the alliance should promise not to deploy weapons in countries bordering Russia that could threaten its security.

In a statement, it added: “Such irresponsible behaviour creates unacceptable threats to our security and provokes serious military risks for all parties involved, right up to the point of a large-scale conflict in Europe.”

Moscow said it was also proposing a series of steps to reduce tensions, including holding military exercises at agreed limits from Russia-Nato borders and set safe distances between opposing warships and planes, especially in the Baltic and Black Seas.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen held a joint news conference on Friday with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and said the bloc was ready to step up economic and financial sanctions against Russia

She said: “Aggression needs to come with a price tag, which is why we will communicate these points ahead of time to Russia.”

The EU chief added: “We want a good relationship with Russia, but it depends first and foremost on the way in which Russia behaves.

“Russia is taking a threatening stance towards its neighbours and that undermines Europe’s security.”