STRASBOURG, March 15 (Xinhua) -- Addressing the European Parliament gathered here Wednesday for its plenary session, European Council (EC) President Donald Tusk stressed the need for unity and mutual trust in a debate on the future of the European Union (EU).
In a debate on the outcomes of the European Council meeting of March 9-10, and in advance of celebrations of the 60th anniversary of signing the Treaty of Rome, Tusk told Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) that he would personally strive to see Europe face coming challenges as one.
"Considering the interests of the community of 27 countries in the context of the upcoming Brexit negotiations as well as the long-term strategic interests of the EU, I will be urging everyone to strive towards maintaining political unity among the 27," the EC president declared.
Repeating an expression he used following the March European Council meeting, Tusk told MEPs:"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
Tusk acknowledged, however, that since a European Commission white paper was released earlier this month detailing five possible scenarios for the future of Europe, discussion has centered around questions of a "multi-speed" Europe, and his understanding for concern.
"Some expect systemic changes that would loosen intra-EU ties and strengthen the role of nations in relation to the community. Others, quite the opposite, are looking for new, deeper dimensions of integration, even if they would apply only to some member states," said the EU Council president.
Tusk also remarked on agreements among EU leaders on making progress on migration issues ahead of what he predicted would be "a challenging summer," with large numbers of refugees expected to seek home on the continent for the third consecutive year.
While celebrating economic improvements across Europe and in every member state, Tusk noted that, "this proves our economic strategies are on the right track."
"Although unemployment is at its lowest level since 2009, leaders were clear on the need to get it down further, particularly in the most affected regions. Job creation will remain our priority. It is the best means to tackle inequality and social injustice," he said.
Trade remained the key to future prosperity, according to Tusk, as he welcomed the European Parliament's speedy handling of relevant legislation, which he said "will help Europe set the global standard for free and fair trade."
The EC president also noted European leaders' "willingness to strengthen trade relations with China," and pursue trade negotiations with Japan in the coming months.
Though Brexit negotiations were not on the agenda for the March EC meeting, Tusk said he will do everything in his power to make sure the EU and the UK remain close friends in the future.
"Britain will be dearly missed as an EU member state. At the same time, I would like to stress again that the EU's door will always remain open for our British friends," he said.
He continued, though, to warn that a "no deal" outcome from Brexit negotiations would be damaging for everyone, but especially for the United Kingdom.
"Our goal is to have a smooth divorce and a good framework for the future. And it is good to know that Prime Minister Theresa May shares this view," Tusk noted.