16 Jul 2013

Italy’s Enrico Letta: we need the UK in the EU

Italy’s Prime Minister Enrico Letta says he will be asking European countries to “help” the UK in order to keep Britain in the EU – and calls for structural reform to make Europe more “pro-growth”.

Speaking to Channel 4 News Economics Editor Faisal Islam, Mr Letta called for the UK to stay as a part of the EU, and to help reform it into a “pro-growth” organisation.

‘A better Europe’

“We need a better Europe, we need a Europe more pro-growth with structural reforms,” he said. “We had a very important pension reform last year, we approved this reform. Italy’s budget today is OK…

“Our problem of course is the big debt, the lack of growth, and the raised unemployment.

“This is why I think it is absolutely necessary the European Union is more pro-growth, pro-digital agenda, pro competitiveness.”

UK ‘on board’

Asked about the possibility that the UK withdraws from the EU, Mr Letta said it was “absolutely necessary” that the UK was “on board”.

He said: “I know that the UK citizens are discussing about their future in or out of the European Union. I would say it would be a problem for the European Union but I would say it would also be a problem for the UK.”

He said with the UK in the EU it can be shaped into a better global player with a more liberalised market.

“I would say to the other European countries that we have to help the UK with these reforms,” he added.

‘Hope for youth’

Mr Letta was also asked about the problems of Italy’s youth leaving Europe to look for jobs.

“We say to them, ‘your problem is our problem’. This is why we are focusing all the financial resources we have to cut labour taxes for youth employment.”

He said his aim was to “bring more hope for youth, which will bring more hope for the country.”