ROME (Reuters) - Italian prime minister-designate Enrico Letta said on Thursday that the time had come for the European Union to soften its focus on economic austerity policies that had crushed growth in crisis-hit countries including Italy.

"If Italy wants and if there is a parliament prepared to support the policies of the government which I intend to form, which wants to change the approach in Europe ... I think we can profit from a moment in which this is possible," Letta told officials from the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement in a meeting.

(Reporting By James Mackenzie)