BRUSSELS (AP) — The six founding nations of the European Union on Tuesday stressed their commitment to seek an "ever closer union" ahead of next week's summit where Britain is expected to seek a new agreement to help convince a skeptical public to remain part of the EU.
The foreign ministers of host Italy, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg said in a joint statement Tuesday they reconfirm their "strong commitment to Europe and the European project and invite all other member states to join."
Such momentum goes against the terms British Prime Minister David Cameron will be looking for at next week's EU summit, where he will seek to obtain reform commitments to give Britain a more independent say in its affairs and Chancellor of the Exchequor George Osborne said a few months ago that "quite frankly, the British people do not want to be part of an ever closer union."
At the same time Britain has said it does not want to hold others back, creating a momentum that could lead a core of nations to integrate much tighter.
"We remain resolved to continue the process of creating an ever closer union among the people of Europe," the joint statement after their meeting in Rome said. "Europe is successful when we overcome narrow self-interest in the spirit of solidarity."
The low-key meeting, said Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, "sought to start a reflection on how to reinforce internal cohesion in the EU."
The lack of solidarity has become a central theme as the EU has struggled from crisis to crisis over the past years, from the financial chaos and the near exit of Greece from the Euro, to division over how to deal with the migrant issue to the possible departure of Britain from the bloc.
Each of these issues could still fundamentally damage the EU project and wreak the celebrations next year for the 60th anniversary of the founding Treaty of Rome.