European Union leaders met for an informal summit on Thursday to discuss the priorities of the bloc for the next five years and project an image of unity, weeks before the European Parliamentary elections ushers in new leadership in the EU institutions.
The summit comes amidst a struggle between those who believe that only a more integrated Europe can meet its challenges, and the ultranationalists who detest the idea of a “United States of Europe”. Against this backdrop and with an apparent effort to mollify both sides of the rancorous debate the leaders approved a document of intentions, “to provide the EU with a promising future”.
In the Sibiu declaration EU leaders pledged that:
- We will defend one Europe – from East to West, from North to South. Thirty years ago millions of people fought for their freedom and for unity and brought down the Iron Curtain, which had divided Europe for decades. There is no place for divisions that work against our collective interest.
- We will stay united, through thick and thin. We will show each other solidarity in times of need and we will always stand together. We can and we will speak with one voice.
- We will always look for joint solutions, listening to each other in a spirit of understanding and respect.
- We will continue to protect our way of life, democracy and the rule of law. The unalienable rights and the fundamental freedoms of all Europeans were hard fought and will never be taken for granted. We will uphold our shared values and principles enshrined in the Treaties.
- We will deliver where it matters most. Europe will continue to be big on big matters. We will continue to listen to the concerns and hopes of all Europeans, bringing the Union closer to our citizens, and we will act accordingly, with ambition and determination.
- We will always uphold the principle of fairness, whether it be in the labour market, in welfare, in the economy or in the digital transformation. We will further reduce disparities between us and we will always help the most vulnerable in Europe, putting people before politics.
- We will give ourselves the means to match our ambitions. We will provide the Union with the means necessary to attain its objectives and carry through its policies.
- We will safeguard the future for the next generations of Europeans. We will invest in young people and build a Union fit for the future, able to cope with the most pressing challenges of the 21st century.
- We will protect our citizens and keep them safe by investing in our soft and hard power and by working with our international partners.
- Europe will be a responsible global leader. The challenges we face today affect us all. We will continue working with our partners in the world to uphold and develop the rules-based international order, to make the most of new trading opportunities and to jointly tackle global issues such as preserving our environment and fighting climate change.
“This is our commitment for future generations, this is the essence of Sibiu and the new Union of Twenty-seven, prepared to face their future all together,” the document concludes.