German president at Rome meeting: Europe is at a crossroads

Speaking at a meeting of heads of state in Rome, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier sees Europe at a crossroads in view of the current situation in the world.

The European Union must show unity “more than ever” in the face of various crises and threats to democracy, Steinmeier said on Wednesday at the Arraiolos meeting of the EU’s non-executive heads of state in Rome.

“We must achieve our ambitious goals,” he urged. This, he said, was about establishing Europe as a stronger player and figuring out what the EU needs to do “to make the world a better place.”

Europe could be an example of improvement, for example in terms of vaccination strategies, the fight for greater climate protection, the digital revolution and the fight for individual rights.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella also highlighted the critical moment. “We are facing decisions that affect the EU both in domestic and foreign policy,” he said.

The crisis in Afghanistan had shown that in future Europe would have to act even more strongly as a player in a world “increasingly characterized by the thirst for prestige of large states,” said the host of the meeting.

The EU sees itself as a “complement to NATO” and wants to strengthen its role in providing security, Mattarella said.

The meetings of the so-called Arraiolos Group – named after the small town in Portugal which was the venue of the first meeting in 2003 – take place once a year.

The participants are the heads of state of those EU states whose presidents do not have an executive role but mostly a more representative one.

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