Europe

French president calls for a multi-speed Europe

From left, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy Brey, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and France's President Francois Hollande arrive to make a joint statement at the Versailles castle, near Paris, France, Monday, March 6, 2017. Hollande is hosting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni in Versailles to prepare for a larger EU meeting later this week. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

From left, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy Brey, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and France's President Francois Hollande arrive to make a joint statement at the Versailles castle, near Paris, France, Monday, March 6, 2017. Hollande is hosting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni in Versailles to prepare for a larger EU meeting later this week. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)  (The Associated Press)

French President Francois Hollande has called for a European Union which allows groups of member states to advance at their own pace.

In an interview published Monday in six European newspapers, Hollande said some EU states must be able to progress more quickly if they wish. "Otherwise, Europe explodes," he added.

Hollande points as a priority the creation of a European defense.

On Monday afternoon, Hollande is to host German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Italian Prime Minster Paolo Gentiloni in Versailles, near Paris, to prepare for a larger EU meeting later this week. Britain is expected to launch negotiations by the end the month on the terms of its exit from the bloc.