The Latest: Merkel says the EU faces 'enormous challenges'

VENTOTENE, Italy (AP) " The Latest on the meeting of leaders from Italy, France and Germany (all times local):

7:25 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says that the European Union is currently facing "enormous challenges" and needs to work together.

Speaking alongside her Italian and French counterparts Monday, she said "we feel that faced with Islamist terrorism and in light of the civil war in Syria that we need to do more for our internal and external security."

Among other things, she said defense cooperation should be strengthened and that intelligence services need to intensify their exchange of information.

She also says European nations need to continue to cooperate in their fight against the smuggling of migrants across the Mediterranean and to protect Europe's external borders.

Merkel says: "more needs to be done for our internal and external security."

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6:50 p.m.

French President Francois Hollande is urging Europeans and their leaders against retreating into nationalist tendencies after Britain's vote to leave the European Union.

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

He spoke on an aircraft carrier off an Italian island alongside the leaders of Germany and Italy as they plotted a path forward without Britain in the EU.

France is among the European countries seeing a rise in support for nationalist parties amid economic and security concerns.

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6:40 p.m.

Italian Premier Matteo Renzi says Europe wants to "write a future chapter" after Britain's vote to leave the EU focusing on common defense, security and economic growth especially addressing youth unemployment.

At the end of a mini-summit Monday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, Renzi said improved security and intelligence sharing is an "absolute priority" for a Europe confronting Islamic extremist violence.

Hollande stressed in particular the need for common European defense efforts after a string of deadly attacks in France and other European countries.

The three leaders held a press conference aboard the Italian aircraft carrier Garibaldi, which is coordinating the EU's Mediterranean migrant rescue operation, after paying tribute to one of the founding fathers of European unity on the island of Ventotene.

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6:00 p.m.

The leaders of Italy, France and Germany have paid their respects at the tomb of one of the founding fathers of European unity in a symbolic bid to relaunch the European project following Britain's decision to leave the EU.

Standing together in the cemetery of the sun-soaked island of Ventotene, Italian Premier Matteo Renzi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Holland placed three bouquets of blue and yellow flowers " the colors of the European Union " on the simple white marble tombstone of Altiero Spinelli.

Spinelli, along with another intellectual confined to Ventotene in the 1940s by Italy's fascist rulers, co-wrote the "Ventotene Manifesto" calling for a federation of European states to counter the nationalism that had led Europe to war.

The document is considered the inspiration for European federalism.

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1:40 p.m.

The leaders of Italy, France and Germany are heading to one of the symbolic birthplaces of European unity to chart the path forward following Britain's decision to leave the EU.

Economic growth, improved security and new job options for European young people are among the topics expected to be discussed.

Italian Premier Matteo Renzi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Holland start their meeting by paying 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 then head to another symbolic location for the summit: the Italian aircraft carrier Garibaldi, which is coordinating the EU's migrant rescue operation.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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