3rd Summit of Southern EU Countries

Southern EU countries bring "added value to the European process", says Mariano Rajoy

President's News - 2017.4.10

El Pardo Royal Palace, Madrid

"The specific nature of our geography enables us to bring added value to the European process", stressed Mariano Rajoy in the statement he made to the press alongside the President of the Republic of France, François Hollande; the Prime Minister of Italy, Paolo Gentiloni; the Prime Minister of Portugal, António Costa; the Prime Minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat; the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, and the Prime Minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras.

The President of the Government of Spain explained that those attending the 3rd Summit of Southern EU Countries, which was held at El Pardo Royal Palace (Madrid), confirmed the priorities for the future of the EU that were defined in Rome in March during the 60th anniversary celebrations of the signing of the Treaties of Rome. Firstly, the need for a common immigration policy capable of increasing dialogue with the countries of origin of those people coming to Europe and the special cooperation with Africa.

The second main objective is economic growth and employment, which includes completing the digital single market and the energy single market, as well as expanding the Juncker Plan, "which we strongly welcomed", said Mariano Rajoy. The leaders of the southern countries of Europe also advocated continued efforts on an open trade policy, which requires reaching an agreement with Japan and negotiating agreements with MERCOSUR and Mexico "as quickly as possible".

Social rights and Economic Union

Pool MoncloaThe European pillar of social rights is the third priority. "It is essential that we create jobs, but also provide the right levels of protection, fighting against inequality and poverty", said the President of the Government.

The fourth main objective is progress on the Economic and Monetary Union. Mariano Rajoy referred to the European Deposit Guarantee System in particular, adding that, "looking ahead", there is a need "to keep working on the Economic and Banking Union, and to start talking about a European Budget and a policy for joint bond issues".

In his speech, the President of the Government said that security is another of the main priorities and that "it also depends on peace and stability beyond our borders". The southern EU leaders highlighted the value of cooperation between police forces and intelligence services. The two main challenges in this field will be to strengthen the measures for preventing the financing of terrorism and to maintain efforts on the prevention of radicalisation. "Against this backdrop", said Mariano Rajoy, "we condemn the recent terrorist attacks in Sweden, Russia and Egypt, and express our solidarity with those nations".

Finally, the Madrid Declaration backs the European Defence Fund and continued progress towards "genuine cooperation in terms of common defence and security".

Brexit negotiations

Pool Moncloa

The withdrawal by the United Kingdom from the European Union - formally notified on 29 March - was another core issue at the summit, as reflected in the final declaration. Mariano Rajoy underlined the unity of the remaining 27 EU Member States in this process and their confidence in the negotiator appointed by the European Commission, Michel Barnier.

"We reiterate that the withdrawal will be negotiated first and then we will talk about the future relationship", said the President of the Government, who also highlighted the importance of preserving people's rights and building the "best possible relationship" between the European Union and the United Kingdom.

Condemnation of the use of chemical weapons in Syria

Furthermore, the Heads of State and Government of the southern EU countries "most strongly" condemned the attack using chemical weapons on 4 April in Syria and stated that the attack launched by the United States in the country "was understandably aimed at preventing and avoiding the distribution and use of chemical weapons", said the President of the Government of Spain.

Pool Moncloa/Diego CrespoThese leaders believe that only "a credible peaceful solution" - under United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254 and the 2012 Geneva Communiqué - can guarantee peace and stability in Syria, "leading to the final defeat of DAESH and other terrorist groups designated by the UN".

Finally, the leaders of the countries attending the summit reiterated their support for the reunification process in Cyprus and praised the efforts of its government, in line with the United Nations Security Council Resolutions and the EU legacy. The status of Cyprus as a Member State of the European Union "is the best safeguard for a reunified Cyprus", said Mariano Rajoy, who met with the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, at Moncloa Palace on Monday morning.