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Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi addresses a news conference during an European Union leaders summit in Brussels June 27, 2014. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

(reuters_tickers)

ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi urged Britain on Wednesday to stay in the European Union, saying that the bloc would lose part of its identity if it left.

"A Europe without the United Kingdom would not simply be a less rich Europe, it would be less Europe, less itself," Renzi said speaking in front of the European Parliament as Italy assumed the rotating presidency of the EU.

(Reporting by Isla Binnie)

Reuters