Rome: Italy and France signed an agreement on Friday to bolster bilateral relations and improve coordination within Europe, at a time when European Union diplomacy is being tested with the departure of German Angela Merkel.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and French President Emmanuel Macron put their names on the new agreement at the Quirinale Palace in Rome. Then, two groups of planes flew with chasing smoke in the colors of the two countries in a stormy sky.
The treaty… represents a historic moment in the relations between our two countries. “France and Italy are strengthening our diplomatic, commercial, political and cultural relations,” Draghi told reporters.
The signing ceremony came days after a new coalition agreement was signed in Germany, ending 16 years of rule by Merkel, who had been Europe’s undisputed leader and forged particularly close ties with her successors.
The new Berlin government is expected to look inward, especially at the beginning of its term, and both Paris and Rome look to deepen relations in a period of economic uncertainty, a pandemic, a more assertive Russia, an emerging China, and a more consistent one. United States of America.
Macron said the Quirinale Treaty, named after the Italian president’s residence in Romania, does not test France’s relations with Germany, but is complementary and aims to strengthen the whole of Europe.
One of the goals set out in the 15-page document is a pledge to strengthen military ties, even at an industrial level, and to work hand in hand to bolster Europe’s defense capabilities.
Macron said: “The goal we are seeking… is for Europe to become stronger and more sovereign… Europe knows how to protect its borders and defend itself.”
The treaty was originally expected in 2017, but negotiations faltered in 2018 when a populist government took power in Rome and clashed repeatedly with Macron over immigration.
This year has seen a revival after Draghi was appointed to lead the Italian unity government, and the two men have met regularly in recent months, working closely in areas that were once hot spots, as attempts to put an end to them. A long-running conflict in Libya.
The Quirinale Treaty, loosely modeled on the 1963 Franco-German agreement, would lead Paris and Rome to search for common ground before EU summits, just as France is already coordinating major European policy steps with Germany.
Draghi said the two countries would launch “new forms of cooperation” in energy, technology, research and innovation. He added that an Italian minister would attend a French cabinet meeting at least once every three months, and vice versa.
France and Italy also pledged to cooperate in the space sector, which would facilitate “mutual investment” and define “joint strategies in international markets”.
French companies have invested heavily in Italy in recent years, but Italian politicians have accused Paris of slowing down when Italian companies seek cross-border deals. Earlier this year, state shipbuilder Fincantieri’s bid to acquire its French counterpart, Chantiers de l’Atlantique, failed due to competition concerns in the European Union.
Italian officials suspect that Paris has tried hard behind the scenes to undermine the agreement.
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