The leaders of Italy, France and Germany are heading to one of the symbolic birthplaces of European unity in a bid to relaunch the European project following Britain’s decision to leave the EU.
Economic growth, improved security and new job options for young people in Europe are among the topics expected to be discussed.
Italian Premier Matteo Renzi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Holland will start their meeting on the Italian island Ventotene, where they will pay respects at the tomb of Altiero Spinelli, who in 1941 began co-writing the “Ventotene Manifesto.” The document, which called for a federation of European states to counter the nationalism that had led Europe to war, inspired European federalism.
The three will then head to another symbolic location for the summit: the Italian aircraft carrier Garibaldi, which is coordinating the EU’s migrant rescue operation.
“Two symbols in one: idealistic values and concrete commitment,” Renzi wrote Monday of Ventotene and the Garibaldi in his weekly newsletter. “We want that the Europe after Brexit — the Europe hit in its heart by terrorism — will relaunch the powerful ideals of unity and peace, freedom and dreams, dialogue and identity.”
Italy has a lot to gain from a reinvigorated EU as it copes with flat GDP, the migrant crisis and political uncertainties over a constitutional referendum this fall on which Renzi has staked his government’s survival.
Renzi has called Ventotene the “cradle of Europe” and is keen to highlight its historic role in the founding of the EU as Italy seeks even greater integration, particularly on the security front to help it cope with waves of migrants, and flexibility from Brussels as it tries to rein in its record public debt.
Monday’s mini-summit will serve as a warmup for an EU-wide summit in Bratislava in September designed to chart the EU’s post-Brexit way forward. It follows an initial three-way huddle by Renzi, Merkel and Holland in Berlin in the days immediately following the June 23 British referendum.
There, the three leaders pledged their commitment to European unity and plotted a common proposal to relaunch the European project focusing on three key areas: improving security, boosting economic growth and strengthening options and programs for young people.
Charting a course is difficult until Britain formally begins the exit process, probably next year, and lays out proposals for its future relationship with the EU.