Athens is hosting a summit meeting of the Mediterranean EU member states plus Portugal on Friday, in an effort to establish a common Southern European front and “to enhance coordination and cooperation of Mediterranean EU member-states” according to the official statement issued by Prime Minister’s Alexis Tsipras. The group is often referred to as “Club Med”, even though Portugal is not on the Mediterranean.
In addition to the Greek prime minister, the meeting is attended by Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, French President Francois Hollande, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa, while Spain's acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is represented by the country's State Secretary for the European Union Fernando Eguidazu.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras received the six foreign leaders after noon, with the first working session scheduled to start at about 1pm. Following a working lunch at 15:15, the EU leaders will give joint statements to the media at 16:45 (local time). The summit will conclude with a visit to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre (SNFCC) in Athens.
In terms of economic policy, Greece will be calling for growth-friendly measures, better use of EU funds and protecting workers' rights. The Greek Prime Minister thanked the European leaders for their response to the invitation to come in Athens, “a few days before a very important -informal but important- summit of the 27 in Bratislava in order to attempt a common and constructive contribution to this critical dialogue that starts for the EU future”.
Mr. Tsipras stressed that “our countries have lately been disproportionately affected by the economic crisis, they are the in first line of the Schengen zone and experience the pressure of migration and refugee flows, they are members of the EU and the Eurozone bordering with the wider destabilized region of North Africa and the Middle East”.
“Our common goal for the coherence of the Eurozone and the EU to overcome the deadlock of today's Europe, for a new vision for the future of Europe that I think we would all agree that today is more necessary than ever”, Mr. Tsipras argued welcoming the six foreign leaders.
The Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi ahead of the summit underlined that “austerity cannot last forever” and that “Europeans must realize that we cannot move forward based only on memories, we also need a strategy for the future”.
According to Reuters, German EU lawmaker Markus Ferber, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives' Bavarian sister party, told newspaper Die Welt he was concerned the southern countries could form a “coalition of redistributors” that would threaten Europe's financial stability. “After Britain's departure, the Club Med will have a blocking minority that can prevent all kinds of laws in Brussels that it does not like” Mr. Ferber said.
AFP reporters said Mr. Schauble expressing his dissatisfaction on the Club Med Summit during the Bratislava Eurogroup on Friday commented “When socialist party leaders meet, most of the time, nothing intelligent comes out of it”. However, this was a summit among head of states, not party leaders, the representative of the Spanish government, as well as the Cypriot government belong to the conservative European coalition (European People’s Party), and the Greek Premier himself is not a socialist.
Germany's Schauble on Athens EU mini-summit: “When socialist party leaders meet, most of the time, nothing intelligent comes out of it.”
— Alex Pigman (@AlexRPigman) September 9, 2016