By Axel Bugge | LISBON

LISBON French President Francois Hollande mentioned on Saturday the brand new U.S. authorities was encouraging “populism and even extremism”, as he and fellow southern European leaders urged unity to face an more and more unsure world.

“We have to stand together in Europe,” Hollande mentioned throughout the assembly in Lisbon. “What is at stake is populism. The kind of discourse now coming from the United States encourages populism and even extremism.”

Hollande was talking at a gathering of southern European leaders in Lisbon, which confirmed rising concern of threats to European unity at a time of Britain’s departure from the EU and rising populism.

The leaders, who face dangers starting from Europe’s refugee disaster to gradual rising economies and excessive money owed, mentioned in a joint declaration they confront a world with “growing uncertainties and instability,” making European unity but extra necessary.

“Weakening Europe is not an option,” they mentioned.

The group, which is usually known as “Club Med”, contains France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Malta and Cyprus.

None of the opposite leaders spoke straight about U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, however they confirmed their willpower in opposing protectionist commerce insurance policies that Trump is selling.

“We need to develop a robust trade policy based on fair exchanges, the promotion of our standards and the safeguarding or our way of life,” the declaration mentioned. “Protectionist reactions are not the right answer.”

Concerns that populism might additional undermine the European Union after Britain’s departure have centered on the threats to mainstream governments at elections this yr within the Netherlands, France and Germany.

In France, far-right chief Marine Le Pen leads opinion polls within the first spherical of the election in April, though they present her shedding within the second spherical in May. And in Italy, the populist 5-Star Movement is the second-largest get together because the chance of elections this yr rise.

“We have a message of confidence and hope regarding what we are and what the European Union has achieved over the past 30 years,” mentioned Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. “It is not necessary that 2017 will be a year of crisis for the EU.”

Saturday’s assembly of the leaders is the second of what are deliberate to be common gatherings.

At the primary assembly of the group in September in Athens, the group known as for European measures to spice up flagging progress. At the time, German officers urged the group to not push for fiscal leisure of EU guidelines.

On Saturday, the leaders talked in regards to the want for financial convergence with richer northern European international locations and insurance policies to spice up progress, however they confused the necessity for cooperation with all of Europe presently of uncertainty.

Still, the clout of the “Club Med” nations is prone to develop as with Britain’s departure from the EU it’s set to achieve a blocking minority on EU insurance policies.

(Corrects paragraph 10 to indicate Le Pen topping polls solely in first spherical of election)

(Reporting By Axel Bugge; Editing by Dominic Evans and David Evans)





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