ZAGREB, Oct 11 (Croatia Sun News) – A strong inclusive European Union with common institutions, capable of reforming itself, can respond to the challenges it faces, the heads of state of 13 member states said in the Athens Declaration at the end of the 15th Arraiolos Group summit on Friday.
With the declaration from Athens, “the birthplace and beacon of European Democracy and European Civilisation,” the signatories update their “call for Europe”, addressed on May 9, ahead of the 2019 European elections in which a majority of European citizens voted for forces that support the European construction.
The signatories warn that the EU is “facing grave challenges” as “some voices are now speaking of the reversal of one or several steps of integration, such as the free movement of persons or the abolition of common institutions.”
“Only a strong Community working together is able to face the global challenges of our time,” the declaration says.
“The effects of climate change, terrorism, economic globalisation and migration do not stop at national borders, nor does an appropriate response. We will only manage to face these challenges successfully… if we work together, as equal Partners, on an institutional level,” the document says.
“We therefore need a strong, inclusive European Union, a Union with common and shared institutions, a Union which constantly evaluates its work critically and has the ability to reform itself, a Union based upon its Citizens and its Member States, as its vital foundations.”
The signatories also underline the importance of unity in diversity. “Europe is in a position to accommodate a broad variety of diverse opinions and innovative ideas. The return to a Europe where countries are no longer equal partners but rivals should be resisted as a regression to narrow competing interests inimical to a shared, sustainable future on a fragile planet.”
“This year’s meeting in Athens, as well as our future meetings, the next of which is to be held in Lisbon in October 2020, are dedicated to the deepening, widening and enrichment of this debate,” the declaration says.
The signatories are Greek President Prokopios Pavlopoulos, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Italian President Sergio Mattarrela, Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, Polish President Andrzej Duda, Hungarian President Janos Ader, Maltese President George Vela, Latvian President Egils Levits, Slovenian President Borut Pahor, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and Irish President Michael Higgins.