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EU founding members meet in Rome to reinforce the need for unity

Representatives from the EU's six original member states have met in Rome to discuss various challenges faced by Brussels. They stressed the need for solidarity while also acknowledging it was a bad time for the bloc.

Foreign ministers from Italy, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg said in a joint statement on Tuesday that the EU must continue to work for "an ever closer union," even as members

face unprecedented challenges.

"We are concerned about the state of the European project. Indeed, it appears to be facing very challenging times. It is in these critical times that we, as founding members, feel particularly called upon," the statement said.

Among the issues the representatives discussed in Rome were the ongoing refugee crisis and the threat of a "Brexit," an exit from the EU by Britain.

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Deep divisions

The statement offered no concrete policy proposals, even as member states differ over how to handle the influx of refugees into Europe.

"Europe is successful when we overcome narrow self-interet in the spirit of solidarity," the foreign ministers emphasized.

The meeting came a week after a draft agreement between Brussels and British Prime Minister David Cameron that allows the UK to opt out of the much-touted "ever closer union."

blc/bw (AP, Reuters, dpa)

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