Leaders of nine Mediterranean European Union member states (EUMED 9) have held talks here, calling for closer cooperation to face various common challenges.
“In the face of different yet equally serious challenges, Europe is confronted with, in a wide variety of fields, such as the environment and climate, health, economy, security and stability; it is more crucial than ever to strengthen the European foundations, address the EU’s structural deficiencies, enhance the European dimension of defence and build up our collective resilience,” read the co-signed declaration of the 8th EUMED 9 summit, Xinhua news agency reported.
The heads of state and government of Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain on Friday called for peace, security and stability in the Mediterranean and increased cross border collaboration to address issues such as migration, extremism, developments in Afghanistan, crises like the Covid-19 pandemic or challenges like climate change, green transition and economic recovery and sustainable growth.
“The Mediterranean of culture, open horizons and prosperity, asks us to protect peace and security around it, but also the very balance of the ecosystem in its waters,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said during joint statements to the press after the closure of proceedings.
French President Emmanuel Macron and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez stressed that the EU should send a message that can meet challenges with European solutions.
“Cooperation is key to finding mutually beneficial solutions to shared challenges,” Malta’s Prime Minister Robert Abela added.
The climate crisis was a major topic on the agenda of the summit, which also welcomed European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the opening.
The leaders co-signed an additional Athens declaration on climate change and the environment in the Mediterranean, urging for “urgent and ambitious global action” to secure a safe, prosperous and sustainable future for societies.
“The transformation is indeed gigantic and there is no time (for complacency),” Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi stressed during the press conference, pointing to recent destructive heatwaves, wildfires and floods in the region this summer.