France and Germany set aside bilateral tensions Tuesday to call for a European Union overhaul, which has been embroiled for the past 10 years in a eurozone debt crisis, an influx of migrants and refugees and most recently Brexit.
NATO Experiencing 'Brain Death': French President Macron
Some EU leaders fear that regional and political divisions could destroy a project to which they attribute the continuance of peace and prosperity on the continent, even in Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet bloc.
Paris and Berlin, long considered the backbone of the unification process in the region after World War II, presented a document in which they set out the need for a "Conference on the Future of Europe" to make the EU "more united and sovereign."
The document speaks of Europe's role in the world in the face of growing concern over new economic and security challenges, especially those posed by a rising China.
Earlier this month, French President Emmanuel Macron called NATO's transatlantic military alliance "brain-dead," urging Europe to strengthen its capacity for action because it cannot depend forever on the unpredictability of the United States.
The two-page Franco-German statement also spoke of other areas where Europe needed to be more united, such as digitization, climate change, migration, the fight against inequality, the "social market economy" and the rule of law.
Today, many EU citizens feel that their voices are not heard in Brussels and have little confidence in its institutions, sentiments that led to the 2016 British referendum to leave the bloc.
The two EU heavyweights said that citizens would have to be closely involved in reflecting on Europe's future through a bottom-up consultation process.