EU leaders invited to meet Pope Francis ahead of summit in Rome

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The Vatican said on Friday that Pope Francis has invited 28 leaders of EU countries for an audience before a summit in Rome marking the 60th anniversary of the EU’s founding treaty.

The meeting will begin on March 24, a day before EU leaders are set to commemorate the signing of the 1957 Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community, the predecessor of the EU.

With Britain’s decision to leave the bloc, leaders of the remaining 27 EU member states will use the occasion to start negotiations about the direction of the EU after Brexit.

NAN reports that the Pontiff has previously made what have been interpreted by many as pro-EU remarks in speeches, and even addressed parliament in an historic speech in 2014.



Then he called Brussels “somewhat elderly and haggard” and said it needed new energy and impetus if it was to re-engage with votes and increase its flagging popularity.

He said: “The great ideas which once inspired Europe seem to have lost their attraction, only to be replaced by the bureaucratic technicalities of its institutions.”

More recently, the Pope blasted a lack of unity at the heart of the EU project, and in particular its stance on migration, asking in a speech last year: “What has happened to you, the Europe of humanism, the champion of human rights, democracy and freedom?”(dpa/NAN)

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