ITALY (AFP) - Britain's exit from the European Union will not lead to the demise of the bloc, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi vowed on Monday.
"Many thought the EU was finished after Brexit but that is not how it is," Renzi said as he welcomed the leaders of France and Germany for crucial talks on how to revive the European project in the wake of the Brexit shock.
"We want to write a better page (in European history)." French President Francois Hollande said Europe was faced with a risk of "fragmentation and division" while German Chancellor Angela Merkel recalled that the EU had been born from some of the "darkest moments" of European history.
The three leaders were speaking ahead of a working dinner aboard the Giuseppe Garibaldi aircraft carrier, anchored off the island of Ventotene, one of the cradles of the dream of a united, integrated Europe.
The three leaders are hoping to forge a common position on the way forward post-Brexit ahead of a summit of the 27 remaining EU states in Bratislava next month.
Europe's economic outlook, militant attacks, the refugee and migrant drama, the Syrian conflict, and relations with Russia and Turkey were also expected to be on the agenda.
At a first round of talks in June, the leaders of continental Europe's three biggest economies called for "a new impulse" for the EU.