July.17 - Meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron in London, Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta warns that a British exit from the European Union would be disastrous for Europe. Ciara Sutton reports.
Reduce the prospect of a UK exit or take a huge risk - that's Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta's warning to EU member states. British Prime Minister David Cameron, who met with Letta in London, has promised to hold a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU by the end of 2017, if he remains in power. Letta says a UK a exit would be a disaster. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER ENRICO LETTA, SAYING: "I'm here to say that it's an Italian interest and I think a European interest that the UK stay on board the European process. It would be important because without the UK on board, the European Union will be worse, will be less liberal, will be less pro-single market, less of a global player in the world." And analysts seems to agree. CMC Markets' Michael Hewson. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARKET ANALYST AT CMC MARKETS, MICHAEL HEWSON, SAYING: "What needs to be got across in this debate over the next few years with respect to the UK and Europe, is that the European market is good for the UK and the UK market is good for Europe. And there needs to be a symbiotic relationship where basically the taxes and the regulation benefit both parties." Surveys suggest Britons are divided on staying in the EU, with slightly more favouring an exit, but many remaining undecided. Since arriving in the UK, Letta has said moves towards more integration in the euro zone should not threaten the EU's single market or leave countries outside the single currency area less comfortable with their membership. The UK wants to renegotiate its relationship with the EU and regain some powers. Speaking at the joint press conference, Cameron remained upbeat about the UK's position. (SOUNDBITE) (English) UK PRIME MINISTER, DAVID CAMERON, SAYING: "You can see here today the Italian Prime Minister speaking very clearly about the single market, about competetiveness, about jobs, about growth that we'll get if we get these structural reforms. And that is a joint Anglo/Italian agenda. We're going to draw in other allies across the European Union, and we hope to really push this agenda including at the October and December European councils." One of Italy's youngest ever prime ministers, Letta is on a mission to restore the Italian economy. But with youth unemployment at 40%, and the country in its worst recession in 20 years - he'll have his work cut out.