01/10/2018 12:42 EST | Updated 01/10/2018 15:01 EST

Mediterranean leaders say EU citizens should have their say

ROME — Seven Mediterranean countries are encouraging citizens to have their say on the European Union's future in coming months.

Leaders from Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Malta, Greece and Cyprus met over dinner in Rome on Wednesday night to craft common strategy ahead of full EU meetings later this year.

Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni told reporters that since European economies are experiencing a "positive moment, it makes this the right moment to make an effort for greater European cohesion" and reduce regional differences among members.

A joint declaration said: "We welcome the idea of citizens' consultations, all over Europe, on core priorities for the future of the European Union that could be organized from next spring."

Participants also renewed appeals for the EU to provide more help addressing the migrant crisis.