French President Francois Hollande called on European Union leaders to refuse any “pressure” from the US administration and to reflect a complete independence on its future, particularly on defence, trade and its relations with Russia.

Hollande did not rule out the possibility of a “multi-speed” Europe when addressing the press during the European Union informal summit here, Xinhua news agency reported.

A plan was endorsed at the summit to stem illegal immigration along the central Mediterranean route and prepared for the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome to be celebrated on March 25.

“There may be different opinions within the 28, even judgments on the Trump administration can be nuanced among us, but there needs to be a unity of the European Union to take the full account of what is taking place”, said the French president.

Hollande also warned against relying solely on the US-dominated alliance for Europe’s military defence. Europe must organise its own defence within the framework of the NATO alliance, he said.

He stressed that the EU should assert its interests especially when a country, the US in this case, aims at changing the situation and adopts unilateral and protectionist measures.

“What matters is solidarity at the EU level. We must not have the illusion of some sort of external protection”, he said.

“We in France have a defence policy. We fear nothing…We must have a European conception of our future. If not, there will be, in my opinion, no Europe and not necessarily any way for each of the countries to be able to exert an influence in the world,” he added.

First Published | 4 February 2017 8:42 AM
Download English News App and stay updated with all Latest News. For News in English, follow us on