Pope Francis: EU 'risks dying if it loses direction'

26 March, 2017, 00:50 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • Pope Francis: EU 'risks dying if it loses direction'

"Today in Rome we are renewing the unique alliance of free nations that was initiated 60 years ago by our great predecessors", he said.

At the end of the session, all 27 leaders signed the Rome Declaration saying that "European unity is a bold, farsighted endeavour". "We are determined to make the European Union stronger and more resilient, through even greater unity".

"Only a united Europe can be a sovereign Europe in relation to the rest of the word", he added.

But days of wrangling about the wording of a 1,000-word Rome Declaration, May's impending Brexit confirmation and tens of thousands of protesters gathering beyond the tight police cordon around the Campidoglio palace offered a more sober reminder of the challenges of holding the 27 nations to a common course.

It was 60 years since the Treaty of Rome, which led to establishment of the European Economic Community and eventually the EU. British Prime Minister, Theresa May, has not been invited.

Beyond the police barricades cordoning off the ancient city core to traffic, thousands marched in six different rallies.

As 27 European Union heads of state gathered to mark the occasion, Pope Francis addressed them in the Vatican, warning them not to lose focus.

"They did not lack boldness, nor did they act too late", he said.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Union chief executive, recalled how his father in Luxembourg was forced into the German army in World War Two; Donald Tusk, the summit chair born in Gdansk a month after the Treaty was signed, remembered growing up in the ruins of war and yearning for freedom behind the Iron Curtain.

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A safe and secure Europe: a Union where all citizens feel safe and can move freely, where our external borders are secured, with an efficient, responsible and sustainable migration policy, respecting global norms; a Europe determined to fight terrorism and organised crime. Recent opinion polls put support for the European Union by Poles at around 80 per cent. "We want a generous Europe and not one that functions like the sum of different states".

He argued that citizens may today not be experiencing the social advancement experienced in the past, leading to skepticism in the European Union project.

"We have had 60 years of peace in Europe and we owe it to the courage of the founding fathers", Mr Gentiloni said, acknowledging that a string of crises had combined to bring the process of European integration to a standstill.

A social Europe: a Union which, based on sustainable growth, promotes economic and social progress as well as cohesion and convergence, while upholding the integrity of the internal market; a Union taking into account the diversity of national systems and the key role of social partners; a Union which promotes equality between women and men as well as rights and equal opportunities for all; a Union which fights unemployment, discrimination, social exclusion and poverty; a Union where young people receive the best education and training and can study and find jobs across the continent; a Union which preserves our cultural heritage and promotes cultural diversity.

"We pledge to listen and respond to the concerns expressed by our citizens and will engage with our national parliaments", the declaration says. All of us have needed, or will need solidarity.

But before leaving Warsaw for the Italian capital she said there would be no resistance.

It remains overwhelmingly and compellingly in Britain's national interest that the European Union should succeed both politically and economically.

The Polish PM had said earlier this week that she would not accept the declaration if it did not address issues that are a priority for Poland. But at other marches and sit-ins, most celebrated the treaty.

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