The EU plans to send 10,000 more border guards to tackle unlawful immigration by 2020, the European Commission's president Jean-Claude Juncker said in his annual state of the union address.
He called for more solidarity, rather than "ad-hoc solutions" for people on migrant ships.
His speech also tackled the region's other burning issues - populism, terrorism and Brexit.
This is Mr Juncker's last 12 months in the role.
He also proposed a new Africa-Europe alliance, based on co-operation rather than charity, leading to a continent-to-continent free trade agreement.
He recommended that the euro be used more strategically as the biggest currency after the dollar.
And he called for strong leadership on Brexit. "The United Kingdom will never be an ordinary third country for us," he said.
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The next elections to the European parliament are expected to be held in late May next year.