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The Six are fighting back! (caps2)

The six ministers meeting in Rome (credit: Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
The six ministers meeting in Rome (credit: Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

(B2) The six foreign ministers of the founding countries of the European Union (1) have just approved this Tuesday (February 9) in Rome a declaration entitled “ Charting the way forward” in order to “ strengthen thecohesion in the European Union ». Sixes claim to be very concerned about the state of the European project ". But they affirm their desire to fight for European solutions " and in particular wanting to continue the European work of a " ever closer union ". A sort of response to those who advocate a looser union.

The start of other commitments?

Once is not customary, B2 transcribes in full this declaration (2) which is, in itself, a final reminder of certain known principles but could initiate other commitments in the future. Although the declaration contains no mention of a new Treaty, it is in everyone's mind that European integration is not dead as the United Kingdom would like. Didier Reynders recalls this in an interview published by our colleague from Le Soir, Jurek Kuczkiewicz (Wednesday): “there is a desire to go further. (…) There will be two phases: first (see) how to move forward within the framework of existing treaties. Then (see) how to move forward in the longer term. If this requires treaty changes, we know that it will be much more cumbersome ».

A next meeting in Brussels

For the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Six intend to react to a possible brake on European integration “ Some may not want to go further, this is the case for Great Britain and others. But on a certain number of important subjects, we six believe we must provide stronger European solutions. This is not an abstract discussion to say that we want more Europe. We want a stronger Europe in certain areas. » The next meeting of the Six will also be held in Val Duchesse, on the very site where the Treaty of Rome was prepared.

A France in tow

We can notice the very low enthusiasm of France on this subject. Quite notably, the French, usually so quick to communicate as soon as there is Franco-German or major declarations, have remained very discreet on the subject. “ This might not really be the right format. » says a French diplomat with enthusiasm as strong as the condemned man who climbs the guillotine... The text was not even written in French. And the French version was, again on Wednesday… non-existent!

The worrying European project

As Europe approaches the 60th anniversary of the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community on March 25, 2017, we are concerned about the state of the European project. Indeed, he seems to be facing a very difficult time. In these critical moments, we, as founding members, feel particularly called.

An ever closer union

We must not forget that Europe had to go through violent conflicts and a painful history before pursuing the path of integration. For many generations, Europe was simply a dream of peace and understanding, accompanied by the hope of human dignity, freedom, democracy, the rule of law and solidarity on the continent. The European project has enabled us to make these very principles the foundation of our coexistence in Europe. They have been the basis of our security, stability and prosperity. They are also our capital for our common future. We firmly believe that the European Union remains the best answer we have for today's challenges and allows different paths to integration. We remain determined to continue the process of creating an ever closer union between the peoples of Europe.

The refugee crisis: fighting for European solutions

Europe is a success when we overcome (our) own narrow interests in the spirit of solidarity. We must be ready to fight for European solutions. The EU is much more than the sum of its 28 member states. This also applies to the refugee crisis, one of the biggest challenges currently facing the European Union. The priority is to fully implement our joint decisions with efficiency and humanity. Better management of the Union's external borders is essential to make them more secure without hindering the fluidity of the Schengen movement and acquis. Europe needs a balanced and geographically comprehensive approach, based on solidarity and responsibility. It is crucial to strengthen comprehensive cooperation with countries of origin and transit, with a view to stemming the flow of irregular migrants and tackling the root causes of migration.

The fight against terrorism: fundamental

Recent terrorist attacks have targeted the fundamental values ​​and human rights that are at the heart of the European Union – solidarity, freedom, including freedom of expression, pluralism, democracy, tolerance and human dignity. All citizens have the right to live free from fear. Our common values ​​must be protected and violence and racism must be fought. More needs to be done to prevent radicalization and develop a counter-narrative. It also means fighting against the enemies of our core values. We confirmed the need to further strengthen the fight against terrorist threats, in full compliance with human rights and the rule of law.

The Union a global player

We discussed the role that the Union is called to operate as a global actor. The EU's new global strategy on foreign and security policy will provide the Union with an updated vision and effective tools to stimulate its action. It will emphasize the importance of European security and defense policy at the heart of European commitments for peace and stability in the world. A democratic, stable and prosperous neighborhood is a strategic priority and in the fundamental interest of the EU.

We declare and confirm our strong commitment to Europe and the European project and invite all other Member States to join it.

In summary in the language of Shakespeare, this gives: We are concerned about the State of the European project (…) We remain resolved to continue the process of creating an ever closer union among the people of Europe. (…) Europe is successful when we overcome narrow self-interest in the spirit of solidarity. We have to be ready to strive for European solutions. (…) We declare and reconfirm our strong commitment to Europe and the European project and invite all other Member States to join. »

(1) Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands

(2) Download the declaration in English here. This text has been translated by us. It therefore does not represent an official version.

Read our analysis:  God save the Queen! Europe on the eve of a political revolution?

(Maj) 10.2 morning with the elements of Didier Reynders in Le Soir

Translation done by B2, the intertitles are from the editorial staff

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).