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The scramble to save the EU: Leaders meet on the Italian island where the idea of a federal Europe began as they plot to stop the Brussels project unravelling following Brexit

  • Italian PM Matteo Renzi invites Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande to island off the coast of Naples for talks on future of EU
  • Ventotene highly symbolic because of its part in the creation of the EU
  • Aims ‘to show the unity of Europe’s three biggest countries’ after Brexit
  • Mini-summit of founding nations kick-starts months of intensive talks
  • Comes as Sweden warns Britain it will face ‘difficult’ negotiations if it pursues ‘aggressive’ tax cuts  

The leaders of the EU’s three biggest countries met for crisis talks in Lazio today as they scramble to save the Brussels project from unravelling after Brexit.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi invited German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande to Ventotene, a tiny island off the coast of Naples, to discuss their strategy ahead of next month’s crucial summit of all 28 leaders.

The three leaders, who are all facing vital elections over the next year in their own countries, will also address Europe’s response to the refugee crisis, the continent’s ongoing economic woes and security on the continent in the wake of a string of terror attacks in French and German cities last month.

The aim of the summit on Ventotene today is to demonstrate the unity of Europe’s three biggest countries and three of the founding nations of the EU, but it is likely to attract questions over the elitist nature of the meeting.

As attention turns to the intense preparations for Britain’s departure from Brussels in the coming weeks and months, the Swedish prime minister warned Britain not to cut corporation tax or it will face tougher negotiations with the EU.

French President Francois Hollande (left) is greeted by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (right) for a crucial meeting on the tiny Ventotene island off the coast from Naples today 

The location of the exclusive meeting is hugely symbolic; Ventotene (pictured) was seen as playing a part in the formation of the EU. One of the EU's founding fathers, Altiero Spinelli, wrote a manifesto for a federal Europe while he was imprisoned on the island off the coast of Naples during the second world war

Stefan Loefven said suggestions Britain could offset any economic costs of leaving the EU by cutting business rates to attract investment would make Brexit talks ‘more difficult’ and will harm relations with the bloc.

He also urged British PM Theresa May to get on with triggering Article 50 – the formal process for starting the two-year process of leaving the EU – telling Bloomberg that Brexit ‘shouldn’t take longer than necessary’.

‘But if the UK wants some time to think about the situation, this will also give EU countries some time,’ Mr Loefven added.

‘On the other hand, you hear about plans in the U.K. to, for example, lower corporate taxes considerably.

‘If they, during this time, begin that kind of race, that will of course make discussions more difficult.’

Italian PM Matteo Renzi (left) and French President Francois Hollande (right) arrive for their meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the Italian island of Ventotene today 

Ventotene (pictured) was chosen because of its symbolic meaning to the EU - one of the EU's founding fathers, Altiero Spinelli, wrote a manifesto for a federal Europe while he was imprisoned on the island off the coast of Naples during the second world war

The leaders met for a mini summit on Ventotene, pictured, situated in the Tyrrhenian Sea

Francois Hollande (left), Angela Merkel (middle) and Matteo Renzi (right) were pictured today as they met for crisis talks in Lazio to plot a way forward for the European Union 

Today’s summit in Ventotene is the first in a number of intense meetings of talks between European leaders, who are returning from their summer holidays to forge a new way forward after Britain’s dramatic decision to quit the EU in June.

KEY POINTS DISCUSSED AT LAZIO SUMMIT

Brexit will be top on the list as Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi welcomes German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande to the tiny island of Ventotene today.

A common approach to the negotiations will be crucial in securing the future of the EU and with 27 leaders and many difference approaches, the leaders of the three biggest countries will want to be on the same page in order to control the way forward.

They will join their European counterparts at an EU-wide summit in Bratislava, Slovakia, next month, where leaders will start to set out their views on what the EU’s post-Brexit relationship with Britain should look like.

But other EU crises will be on the table at today’s mini-summit, with the refugee crisis continuing to pose problems for each of Italy, France and Germany.

The latter two nations have suffered horrific terror attacks in recent weeks and security will also be discussed by Mr Renzi, Mr Hollande and Mrs Merkel.

Member states’ contributions to border security and common law enforcement agencies will be on the agenda today, while closer military co-operation is also expected to be considered.

The location of the exclusive meeting is hugely symbolic; Ventotene was seen as playing a part in the formation of the EU.

One of the EU’s founding fathers, Altiero Spinelli, wrote a manifesto for a federal Europe while he was imprisoned on the island off the coast of Naples during the second world war along with fellow intellectual Ernesto Rossi.

A French diplomatic source told the Guardian the summit aims ‘to show the unity of Europe’s three biggest countries, but not to create a specific club’.

The leaders travelled to the island on the Giuseppe Garibaldi aircraft carrier that has taken part in key rescue missions during the refugee crisis, saving desperate migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea.

As the UK Government prepares for Brexit negotiations, which are not due to officially start until 2017, leading Leave campaigner Iain Duncan Smith urged Theresa May to speed up with plans to quit the bloc.

He said the Prime Minister should get on and begin formal negotiations ‘as soon as possible’ and accused Remain supporters of trying to delay the triggering of Article 50 in the hope it can be put off indefinitely.

Writing in The Sun On Sunday yesterday, Mr Duncan Smith also insisted Britain did not need a deal which allowed it to remain part of the European single market, arguing there was a ‘strong case’ in economic terms for leaving.

His intervention follows reports the Government may wait until the end of next year before invoking Article 50, meaning Brexit may not actually happen until late 2019.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (pictured left) and French President Francois Hollande (right) are travelling to the tiny Italian island of Ventotene today to discuss Europe's future  

The Prime Minister has said only that she will not make the Article 50 notification before the end of this year, but Mr Duncan Smith said she must get on with it ‘early’ in 2017, rather than wait for forthcoming elections in Germany and France.

‘That suggestion is yet another attempt to turn this referendum result into a ‘neverendum’,’ he said.

TINY VENTOTENE CHOSEN DUE TO ITS SYMBOLIC PLACE IN EU HISTORY
The tiny Ventotene island (pictured) is highly symbolic

The tiny Ventotene island (pictured) is highly symbolic

The tiny island of Ventotene – situated in the Italian province of Lazio but 46 kilometres off the eastern coast – was chosen by Matteo Renzi due to its part in the history of the EU.

One of the EU’s founding fathers, Altiero Spinelli, wrote the influential ‘Ventone manifesto’ calling for a federation of European states while he was imprisoned on the island during the second world war along with fellow intellectual Ernesto Rossi.

The Italian government said Mr Renzi, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande will lay a wreath on the Spinelli’s tomb on the island as part of their visit today.

‘For too long membership of the EU sapped our sense of self worth and our self confidence. Now we have the chance to believe in Britain again.

‘Let us leave as soon as possible, so that we can get on and make the most of our new found independence.’

Mr Duncan Smith warned ministers not to try to negotiate some form of ‘EU-lite’ agreement which would see Britain remain subject to European law, saying that would be to ignore the clear message delivered by the millions of citizens who voted for Leave.

‘Tired of handing over billions of their hard earned money to the wasteful EU bureaucrats, it (the referendum result) was an order from the British people to Britain’s ruling elite – an order to ‘take back control’. That, simply put, means control of our borders, our trade arrangements, our money and our laws,’ he said.

‘What they didn’t vote for was EU-lite, or for their Government to engage in negotiations where we bend the knee to Brussels and beg for some concessions whilst remaining in a customs union all the while subject to European law.’

He said that Britain did not need to be a member of the single market to trade with it, and may well be better off outside.

‘After all in economic terms there is a strong case to leave the single market,’ he said.

‘Being outside returns control over laws and borders and frees the UK from EU regulations, its external tariff and allows us, as a service sector economy, to position ourselves globally, set our trade deals and compete internationally, particularly in financial services.’

His comments reflect the deep suspicion among many Leave supporters that opponents of Brexit will try to thwart the referendum result.

The leaders of the EU's three biggest countries - French President Francois Hollande (left), German Chancellor Angela Merkel (middle) and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (left), pictured meeting in June after the Brexit vote - met on the Italian island of Ventotene today to discuss the future of Europe without Britain 

Theresa May (pictured on holiday with her husband Philip in Switzerland earlier this month) has been urged to speed up Brexit negotiationsTheresa May (pictured on holiday with her husband Philip in Switzerland earlier this month) has been urged to speed up Brexit negotiations


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3752708/German-Italian-French-leaders-meet-tiny-Ventotene-island-plot-save-EU-Brexit.html

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iananthonyharris
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iananthonyharris

Why do we need to be in the single market? America, India, China, Indonesia, Thailand are not in the single market which does not prevent them exporting to EU.

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