The Heads of State and Government of Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Malta, Greece and Cyprus, meeting in Lisbon for the second Southern EU informal summit, adopted a declaration in which they confirm the "aim of enhancing our cooperation and of contributing to a strong and united European Union".
The Presidents of Cyprus (Nikos Anatasiades) and France (François Hollande), the Prime Ministers of Greece (Alexis Tsipras), Italy (Paolo Gentiloni), Malta (Joseph Muscat), and Portugal (António Costa), and the President of the Government of Spain (Mariano Rajoy) stated that "in a world confronted with growing uncertainties and instability, we will be stronger by acting together. Weakening Europe is not an option".
"The European Union must uphold our values of freedom, democracy, rule of law and respect and protection of all human rights, address common challenges the Member States are facing and deliver concrete answers to the real concerns of our citizens", which are "employment, economic growth and social cohesion; protection from the threats of terrorism and uncertainty; a brighter future for the younger generations through education and jobs; and a central role for culture and education in our societies».
"To this end, the Union must act according to the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity, improve the functioning of its Institutions and ensure their democratic accountability. It should also aim to increase the involvement of all actors in society, namely the local and regional authorities".
"After the Bratislava meeting, and under the Maltese Presidency of the European Union, the Informal Malta Summit and the Rome celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome will provide the opportunity to debate and decide on the direction and clear objectives for the European Union".
"With that in mind", the Southern EU countries "have agreed to focus our work on the following priorities":
- "Fostering Investment, Growth, Employment and Convergence in Europe",
- "Ensuring the internal and external security of Europe",
- "Migration and Reinforcing cooperation in the Mediterranean and with African Countries".
The Heads of State and Government also declared that the "European Union needs to deliver and progress, in a balanced and concrete way, on all these fronts. Real changes must be felt in citizen’s lives".
They defended "the urgency of the EU to focus on effectively responding to the new challenges, namely in the security and defence area. In order to achieve this goal, it is essential to conclude an equally important area of progress by completing and reforming the EMU, ensuring a resilient and cohesive Eurozone and thus allowing the euro to fulfil its original role".
"We believe this is the way to build a shared prosperity by all Member States and reinforce the unity and sense of purpose of the European project", the declaration said.
The next Southern EU Countries Summit will be held in Spain in April and after in Cyprus.
Photo: Prime Minister António Costa, President of the French Republic, François Hollande, President of the Republic of Cyiprus, Nikos Anastasiades, President of the Government of Spain, Mariano Rajoy, Prime Minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras, and Prime Minister of Italy, Paolo Gentiloni, in the final declaration of the southern EU countries summit, Lisbon, 28th january 2017 (Photo: André Kosters/Lusa)