Against a backdrop of deep divisions within the EU over the migration crisis, the bloc’s six founding members put on a united front at a meeting in Rome on Tuesday.
Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg pledged to pursue “ever closer union”, although they acknowledged that the EU was facing “very challenging times.”
Italian Foreign Minister, Paolo Gentiloni, said: “Without any doubt, Europe is going through one of its hardest moments since its foundation around 60 years ago – what with the combination of migration flows, terrorist threats, the challenge of the UK referendum and the protracted consequences of the financial and economic crisis.”
The six nations said in a statement that they were “concerned” about the state of “the European project.”
“Indeed, it appears to be facing very challenging times. It is in these critical times that we, as founding members, feel particularly called upon.”
The original signatories of the Treaty of Rome also said in the statement: “We remain resolved to continue the process of creating an ever closer union among the people of Europe.”
They called for better management of external borders, while preserving freedom of movement within the bloc.