EU27 leaders; Credit: European Union

Last Thursday 9 May 2019, Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel participated in the informal European Council in Sibiu, Romania.

At this meeting of Heads of State and Government, European leaders had a first exchange of views on the EU's strategic agenda for the period 2019-2024.

On this occasion, Prime Minister and Minister of State, Xavier Bettel, took the opportunity to discuss the challenges facing the EU and the world: "Our Union, our continent and our world face many challenges: migration, international trade, climate change, to name just a few. If we want our Union to succeed, we need a smart, sustainable and forward-looking strategy. More importantly, we must meet these challenges together and in unity. We all agree that there are problems that can not be solved exclusively at the national level. We therefore need a common strategy - and we are here today to lay the foundations for that".

At the June European Council, Heads of State and Government will formally adopt the EU's new Strategic Agenda, which will set out the overarching priorities to guide the EU's work over the next five years. In order to launch this process, the leaders had an initial discussion in Sibiu on the main directions they want to give to EU policies in the future. The four main thematic axes serving as a basis for discussion were: protecting citizens and their freedoms; developing an economic base on a European model for the future; building a greener, fairer and more inclusive future; promoting the interests and values ​​of the European Union in the world.

With regard to the priorities for the EU for the coming years, Xavier Bettel highlighted one of the issues of particular importance for Luxembourg at European level: combatting climate change. "Throughout Europe, young people, and some not so young people alike, are taking to the streets to remind us that it is high time to carry out our declared ambitions in the fight against climate change. I would like to see something concrete in our future strategic programme."

Indeed, on the sidelines of the Sibiu summit, the Luxembourg Prime Minister, together with the French President and the Belgian, Dutch, Swedish and Portuguese Prime Ministers, were presented with a letter by three activists representing the "Fridays for Climate" movement, which was signed by 17,000 young people around the world. In response, Xavier Bettel assured the activists that "Luxembourg listens to these young voices who care about their future. We must act - and Luxembourg will continue to defend ambitious goals to fight climate change at the European level".

At the end of the meeting, the leaders reaffirmed their conviction that together the EU countries are stronger, especially in an increasingly unstable world. For this reason, the Heads of State and Government unanimously decided to adopt ten commitments for the future of the European Union, included in the Sibiu Declaration.

The next European Council is scheduled for 28 May in Brussels. This extraordinary summit will be held in the aftermath of the results of the European elections and will aim to draw an initial assessment.