Renzi, Hollande and Merkel head to birthplace of European project to map out post-Brexit future

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Renzi, Hollande and Merkel head to birthplace of European project to map out post-Brexit future

Post  Sirop14 on Mon Aug 22, 2016 4:16 pm

Renzi, Hollande and Merkel head to birthplace of European project to map out post-Brexit future

A volcanic outcrop adrift in the cobalt blue of the Tyrrhenian Sea, it seems at first glance a curious place for a crucial post-Brexit summit.

But it was on the island of Ventotene that a group of Italian politicians, who had been interned by Benito Mussolini during the Second World War, hatched a vision of a free, united, democratic Europe that eventually evolved into the EU.

It is that spirit of optimism which Matteo Renzi, the Italian prime minister, will try to tap into when he gathers with Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel on the island off Italy’s west coast on Monday.

For a Europe that has been deeply wounded by Britain’s vote to leave, the choice of Ventotene is highly symbolic – one of the internees was future statesman Altiero Spinelli, who during the darkest days of fascism and Nazism wrote a text now known as the Ventotene Manifesto, calling for a free, federal Europe.

Seventy years on, the three leaders will lay a wreath at Spinelli's tomb as they begin their bid to relaunch the European project in the wake of Britain's vote to leave the EU. They are expected to discuss the implications of Brexit and the timetable for Britain’s departure, as well as the vexed issue of how to promote economic growth whilst keeping within tight budgetary constraints.

EU diplomatic sources said that the trilateral summit among Europe's three major post-Brexit powers would not discuss the specifics of any possible deal with the UK, since Britain had still not decided what kind of relationship it wanted with Europe.

However the leaders are expected to discuss how hard to push Britain to set out its stance for the negotiation and begin formal divorce proceedings with the EU by invoking Article 50.

Following reports that Britain was considering delaying until after the French elections next June, both German and Italian ministers have warned Britain that there are limits to how long Europe can wait.

British officials told the Telegraph that Europe had softened its stance after initially demanding the UK move quickly following the June 23 vote, but said no decisions have been made on the timing of any declaration.

One possibility under consideration, the Telegraph understands, is that the UK would indicate what kind of relationship it wants with the EU next January, but wait until June before formally declaring article 50, giving all sides time to prepare for what is expected to be a fiendishly complex negotiation.

Whitehall has been working furiously over the summer to prepare a position papers for Theresa May examining how different EU–UK relationships to the single market would impact trade and economy.

"No decisions have been made and nothing has been ruled out," one official said, "the reality is that Europe has plenty of work of its own to prepare for the future negotiations so there is no point in rushing."

The three EU leaders will also discuss how, after the shock of Brexit, the remaining 27 EU nations can present a positive economic and security agenda when they meet for an informal summit in Bratislava next month.

The summit comes at a difficult time for all three premiers, but Mr Renzi in particular.

Appointed following a parliamentary coup two years ago, the youthful former mayor of Florence was hailed as a breath of fresh air, an Italian Tony Blair who would shake up the calcified, hard-line Left and embark on a vigorous programme of reform.

Italy’s youngest ever prime minister, he revelled in the nickname Il Rottamatore, the Scrapper, who was going to take on vested interests such as the unions and the cosy trade monopolies that still have a stranglehold over Italy.

But two years on, the lustre has worn off and many Italians are deeply disappointed with how little he has achieved.

Most damagingly, the third largest economy in the euro zone continues to flat line – figures released recently showed that there was zero growth in the second quarter of this year – and Italian banks are saddled with 360 billion euros of problematic loans.

His Democratic Party recently suffered humiliating defeats in municipal elections, losing Rome and Turin to the anti-euro, anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which was founded by the stand-up comedian and activist Beppe Grillo.

How the Brexit vote is pushing leaders to safeguard European unity Business Insider

Dreiergipfel - Nach dem Brexit: Merkel, Renzi, Hollande suchen neue Einheit


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