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Pope Francis has told EU leaders that they need to show more “solidarity” with one another and remain open to the world, resisting “false forms of security”, if they are to defeat populism and revive the bloc.

Speaking on the eve of the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Treaty of Rome, the Argentine pontiff told the 27 heads of government of the EU to remain united for the “journey” to continue with “renewed enthusiasm and confidence”.

“Europe finds new hope in solidarity, which is also the most effective antidote to modern populism,” Pope Francis said. “Those who run faster can offer a hand to those who are slower, and those who find the going harder can aim at catching up to those at the head of the line,” he added.

Since taking the helm of the Catholic Church in 2013, Pope Francis has a history of delivering powerful speeches about Europe. Speaking to the EU Parliament in 2014, he called the bloc a “tired and haggard grandmother,” and last year he lamented that Europe had lost its values as a beacon of humanism.

The Pope has also been a champion of migrants and refugees, putting him at odds with some Catholics and some EU governments, which have sought to clamp down on immigration.

“Europe finds new hope when she refuses to yield to fear or close herself off in false forms of security. Quite the contrary, her history has been greatly determined by encounters with other peoples and cultures,” he said.

The Pope also said it was time for the EU to develop “concrete actions” to help people. “There is no peace without employment and the prospect of earning a dignified wage,” he said.

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