Mediterranean Leaders Say EU Citizens Should Have their Say

From left, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Spain Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades meet the media during a joint press conference at the Southern Europe summit in Rome, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

ROME (AP) — Seven Mediterranean countries are encouraging citizens to have their say on the European Union’s future in coming months.

Leaders from Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Malta, Greece and Cyprus met over dinner in Rome on Wednesday night to craft common strategy ahead of full EU meetings later this year.

Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni told reporters that since European economies are experiencing a “positive moment, it makes this the right moment to make an effort for greater European cohesion” and reduce regional differences among members.

A joint declaration said: “We welcome the idea of citizens’ consultations, all over Europe, on core priorities for the future of the European Union that could be organized from next spring.”

Participants also renewed appeals for the EU to provide more help addressing the migrant crisis.

From left, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Spain Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni, French President Emmanuel Macron, Malta Premier Joseph Muscat and Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa pose for a family photo at the Southern Europe summit in Rome, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. A Southern European meeting is taking place at Villa Madama in Rome with leaders of Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
From left, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Spain Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni, French President Emmanuel Macron, Malta Premier Joseph Muscat and Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa attend a press conference at the Southern Europe summit in Rome, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. A Southern European meeting is taking place at Villa Madama in Rome with leaders of Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Greek prime Minister Alexis Tsipras shakes hands with Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni, left, as they arrive for a Southern Europe summit in Rome, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. A Southern European meeting is taking place at Villa Madama in Rome with leaders of Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)