Southern EU nations gather in Lisbon as storm clouds gather

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LISBON: Leaders of seven southern European Union nations meet in Lisbon on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) to forge a common approach to deal with Britain’s looming exit from the bloc and the new protectionist administration of US President Donald Trump. The mostly center-left leaders taking part in the gathering are also expected to renew their push for action to boost flagging growth in the EU and tackle the ongoing migrant crisis. Faced with the rise of “protectionism and populism”, the EU needs urgent reforms to “surpass the economic, social and political legitimacy crisis which is weakening it,” Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said Tuesday. French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni are scheduled to take part in the talks. Also holding court are the leaders of Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Malta. This is a follow up to a first gathering held in Athens in September 2016 as part of a push by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to create a strong southern “axis” to counter the influence of nations in northern Europe.

AFP

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