Renzi-Merkel-Hollande on Ventotene (2)

Growth, security and youth jobs at centre of island talks

(ANSA) - Ventotene, August 22 - Italian Premier Matteo Renzi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande on Monday said they wanted to write the EU's future at a summit on an aircraft carrier off the Italian island of Ventotene aimed at helping relaunch the EU at a time of pressure from terror, migrants, flagging economies and Brexit.
    Speaking amid huge security measures, Renzi said "the EU is not finished with Brexit, let's write the future" and "we want strong measures for growth".
    Merkel praised Renzi's structural reforms and said Germany wanted "more cooperation on migrants", stressing it had changed its mind on the "Europeanisation" of the problem and that Turkey's role against migrant smugglers was essential.
    Hollande said the EU must "protect itself but also welcome those who are fleeing" war and desperation.
    All three leaders said their summit was aimed at laying the groundwork for a key mid-September EU summit in Bratislava, Slovakia.
    Ventotene was chosen for the summit for its significance as the location where one of the precursor documents for the EU charter was drafted by anti-Fascist Altiero Spinelli, at whose grave on the island the three leaders laid bouquets in the EU colours, blue and yellow. The main topics on the agenda were security and defence, growth and investments, and young people, but also Turkey, migrants and terrorism, Libya, Syria and Italy's reiterated request to move from austerity to more budget flexibility.
    In other remarks, Merkel said "I think the stability pact has many possibilities of flexibility" but it will be up to the European Commission to deal with (EU) member States. "We want Italy, France and Germany to grow to create jobs and the conditions for the future of private investments," she said.
    Renzi said that "Italy has the lowest deficit of the last 10 years and will continue with structural reforms and the reduction of the deficit for our children and grandchildren".
    He said "we believe Europe is not the problem but the solution. "Europe for us represents the solution, for the populists on the other hand everything is Europe's fault. "Europe is the greatest opportunity. "Let's not be discouraged by Brexit," he said.
    Renzi said that the EU must do more to stop migrant departures and "help those who really need it". He said 102,000 migrants had reached Italian shores this year, compared to 105,000 as of August 20 last year.
    Renzi said ahead of the summit that it was easy to blame the EU for things that go wrong but harder to try to build a different Europe, more attentive to values and less to financial factors.