Sigmalive — Leaders from EU Mediterranean countries have completed their meeting in Athens on Friday, by signing the Athens Declaration, and agreeing to meet in Portugal. The EU Mediterranean meeting has spurred controversy from some German politicians.
Both the Summit and the adoption of the Athens Declaration mark “our joint will for the unity of Europe,” Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras commented.
French President Francois Hollande, who also stressed the need for unity and cohesion and said that Mediterranean countries could contribute to the launch of a dialogue that was useful for Europe, contributing to its security and prosperity.
“We need a programme for growth and it is important to send a message of cohesion at a time of Brexit and the rise of populism in Europe,” Hollande said.
Cyprus’ President Nicos Anastasiades has said that the Mediterranean countries can contribute greatly to the dialogue in Europe.
“It is an undoubtable fact the EU needs a new directions on important policy issues, and today’s discussions at the EU Mediterranean Summit will constructively contribute to the dialogue for the future, which will begin at the unofficial summit in Bratislava,” he added.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has said that the summit has been held to outline the future in Europe ahead of the Bratislava summit.
“Tomorrow’s Europe must be based on the social Europe and the Europe of ideas,” he said.
Renzi added that the Athens Declaration is an added value for a different Europe, which is different than the one that has been known.
Portuguese Prime Minister, Antonio Costa, has said following the summit that they need to unite their common foreign policy and support Africa.
A representative of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said after their meeting that Spain supports meetings of this type as they are a member of the Mediterranean.
Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has said that the leaders meeting was held to find solutions on the way forward.
Muscat has mentioned that he supports the EU and the Juncker Plan, adding that the social Europe was forgotten for a long time, and that they need to support the Union in order to return to the idea of the social Europe.
German criticism of the summit
German EU lawmaker Markus Ferber, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives’ Bavarian sister party, told newspaper Die Welt he was concerned the southern countries could form a “coalition of redistributors” that would threaten Europe’s financial stability.
“After Britain’s departure, the ‘Club Med’ will have a blocking minority that can prevent all kinds of laws in Brussels that it does not like,” Ferber said.
Germany’s EU Commissioner Guenther Oettinger also expressed unease about the Athens meeting.
“It would not be good if the divide deepened between EU member countries with big budget problems …and those with minimal fiscal issues,” he told the Passauer Neue Presse.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble also appeared derogatory in reference to “Club Med.”
“When socialist party leaders meet, nothing terribly intelligent comes out of it most of the time,” he told a press gathering.
Manfred Weber, head of the European People’s Party, (the political association of conservative parties in the EU bloc). “Alexis Tsipras is once again playing the little games he knows so well,” said Weber regarding the summit called in Athens. “What Europe needs right now is a message of unity, not new efforts to divide it.”
Before the summit, attended by a total of seven EU Mediterranean states, Tsipras had also dug into the German leadership in an interview with France’s Le Monde. “We must collectively agree if we are a European Union or a German Union,” he said.