On September 9th 2016, government officials of seven southern European Union countries join together to hold the first Mediterranean EU countries summit in Athens, Greece. The seven countries represented were Greece by officials, France by President François Hollande, Italy by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Malta by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Portugal by Prime Minister António Costa, Cyprus by President Nicos Anastasiades and Spain by a senior government official.
The result of this was a 5-page document that pleaded for better security in Europe, to strengthen the cooperation with African countries, give a response to the challenge of the recent wave of immigration and to nurture growth and investment in the EU. The last point goes a little bit against the austerity policy that the Germans led by Angela Merkel go on wanting to implement in the EU.
So, do we have a reason to be concerned by this difference of opinion? Is this yet another crack in the EU façade after the Brexit that occurred this year?
The answer is no, at least according to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who says that they are just trying to open up the dialogue and not to build a group that splits the EU.
In my opinion, this just showed a strong united front of countries to the policy proposed by the German government that wouldn’t suit the interest of the before mentioned Mediterranean countries. I use the word strong due to the fact that every country was represented by their head of government with the exception of Spain, which is in a deep political crisis.
We shouldn’t mention it yet in the same breath as the Brexit, considering that the British were never a huge fan of the EU. Anyway and always tried to stay as independent as possible as we could see in the example that they never wanted the Euro and stuck with the Pound.
So. for now we shouldn’t be too concerned with the emersion of this summit. It’s just a little front that is built to argue with the EUs strongest economy, Germany, and so be able to move along the dialogue in a direction that would serve the most parties who have a stake in the policy adopted by the EU.
Pedro Miguel Vieira Silva
[artigo de opinião produzido no âmbito da unidade curricular “Economia Portuguesa e Europeia” do 3º ano do curso de Economia (1º ciclo) da EEG/UMinho]