Monday

21st May 2018

'Big three' leaders say EU will survive Brexit

  • Renzi (l), Hollande (c) and Merkel (r) aboard the Garibaldi aircraft carrier, which is fighting human trafficking on the Mediterranean. (Photo: Palazzo Chigi)

The leaders of Germany, France and Italy vowed Monday (22 August) that the European Union would survive the UK's exit.

They also urged more cooperation on security and job creation and help for young Europeans in an effort to lay the groundwork for an informal summit on the future of the EU without the UK, on 16 September in Bratislava.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

German chancellor Angela Merkel, French president Francois Hollande and Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi met on Ventotene, an island off Naples where one of the documents that inspired European federalists was written.

To reinforce the European spirit, they laid a wreath on the grave of Altiero Spinelli, one of the EU’s founding fathers and visionary for a federal Europe who wrote the "Ventotene Manifesto" in 1941.

"We respect Great Britain’s decision but we also want to make clear that the other 27 are banking on a safe and prospering Europe," Merkel said at a joint press conference held on the Garibaldi aircraft carrier, a vessel that takes part in Italy’s effort to combat people traffickers.

"Many people thought that after Brexit, Europe was finished. It's not like that," Renzi said.

"We respect the choice of Britain's citizens, but we want to write a page for the future," said the Italian PM, who sees Brexit as an opportunity to reinforce his country’s standing in Europe.

The three leaders also warned that Europe needed to turn away from populism.

“For many populists, Europe is to blame for everything that goes wrong,” Renzi noted. "Immigration? It's Europe's fault. The economy is bad? It's Europe's fault. But that is not the case."

Hollande said the future of Europe could be "unity and cohesion", but only if EU and national leaders fight against "dislocation, egotism, folding in on ourselves".

However, the leaders announced nothing substantial after the meeting.

They will all face discontented voters soon – Renzi holds a crucial referendum in the autumn, Merkel and Hollande face general elections next year – leaving them with little room for manoeuvre.

The leaders agreed the need to improve security and intelligence sharing was an "absolute priority" for confronting Islamic extremism in Europe.

Hollande stressed in particular the need for common European defence efforts after a string of deadly attacks in France.

The leaders also pledged reinforced external border protection.

But cracks were already visible as Merkel has shown little enthusiasm for loosening economic rules to allow more economic flexibility for debt-stricken Italy and struggling France.

Hollande called for the Juncker Plan, the EU’s investment fund, to be beefed up.

Renzi said “we need strong measures to relaunch growth and fight youth unemployment”.

Merkel praised Renzi's jobs reform but said the EU’s Stability Pact, designed to keep the euro economies in line, "has quite a lot of flexibility that we can use in a clever way".

The German leader is not keen on major structural overhauls of the EU, and wants to focus on specific policies that could deliver results to voters swiftly.

The meeting marked the beginning of a week of talks for Merkel.

She will visit Estonia, the Czech Republic and Poland in the coming days and will meet with the leaders of Slovakia and Hungary in Warsaw. She also invited leaders from the Netherlands and Austria for informal meetings in Germany.

EU's big three thrash out post-Brexit vision

The leaders of Germany, France and Italy meet for the second time after Brexit to come up with plans how to salvage the European project at the mid-September Bratislava summit.

Analysis

EU must protect its citizens

If the EU wants to reach out to disillusioned Europeans, it must offer more protection from the forces currently buffeting the political, social and economic landscape.

Tusk and Merkel discuss post-Brexit EU

EU Council president Tusk will meet chancellor Merkel at a castle retreat in Germany on Thursday as part of preparations for the Brexit summit in Bratislava.

Feature

At Northern Irish border, Brexit risks hard-won peace

In Protestant and Catholic communities where the 1998 Good Friday agreement put an end to armed conflict, the possibility of a hard border on the island of Ireland brings back fearful memories. A new border could unravel that peace process.

Interview

Don't play EU 'games' with military HQs

The EU should not share out military HQs for political reasons if it wants effective armed forces, Italy's former defence chief tells EUobserver.

Feature

Spain makes bid for EU naval HQ

Spanish special forces seized a boat from African 'pirates' as diplomats watched on Monday, in a drill marking Spain's bid to grab a top EU military mission from the UK.

News in Brief

  1. Trump warns Nato allies' low budgets will be 'dealt with'
  2. Only Estonia, Greece and UK hit Nato spending target
  3. EU to start process to counter US Iran sanctions
  4. Macedonia PM sees 'possible solutions' in Greek name row
  5. EU takes six countries to court over air pollution
  6. New Catalan leader sworn in without reference to Spain
  7. Merkel and Putin revive dialogue in troubled times
  8. European companies putting Iran business on hold

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  2. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  3. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  5. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  7. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  10. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  11. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach
  12. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May

Latest News

  1. Athens mayor wants direct access to EU migration fund
  2. Nordics could be first carbon-negative region in world
  3. Zuckerberg and Trump top the EU's agenda This WEEK
  4. Integration of Syrian refugees in Europe needs scrutiny
  5. Bulgarian PM: No asylum reform without stronger border
  6. Eight countries to miss EU data protection deadline
  7. Italian populists to defy EU debt rules
  8. Commission 'playing tricks' with EU budget figures

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  2. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  5. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  7. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  8. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  9. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  10. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  11. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight