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At a time when EU diplomacy is being chal lenged by Germany's Angela Merkel's exit, Italy and France signed a pact on Friday to boost bilateral relations and strengthen their cooperation inside Europe.

In Rome's Quirinale Palace, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and French President Emmanuel Macron signed the new deal. Following then, parallel formations of aircraft flew across a stormy sky, trailing smoke in the colors of the two countries.

"The accord... represents a watershed point in our two nations' ties. Our diplomatic, economic, political, and cultural relations between France and Italy are strengthening "Reporters were briefed by Draghi.

The signing ceremony took place only days after Germany reached an agreement on a new coalition government, ending Merkel's 16-year reign as Europe's unchallenged leader, with particularly tight relations to successive French presidents.

Both Paris and Rome are eager to expand connections at a moment clouded by economic uncertainty, the pandemic, a more aggressive Russia, a rising China, and a more disengaged United States, while the incoming Berlin government is likely to be more inward focused, particularly at the start of its term.

Macron said that the Quirinale Treaty, named after the Italian president's Roman house, would not jeopardize French-German ties, but rather was complimentary and aimed at bolstering Europe as a whole.

Among the 15-page document's aims was a vow to strengthen military links, including at the industrial level, and work together to improve Europe's defense capabilities.

"The goal we're pursuing... is to build a stronger and more sovereign Europe... A Europe that understands how to defend and safeguard its borders," Macron added.

The pact was supposed to be signed in 2017, but talks came to a standstill in 2018 when a populist administration in Rome seized power and battled with Macron frequently over immigration.

Following Draghi's selection to head an Italian unity government earlier this year, there has been a revival, and the two men have met many times in recent months, working closely on issues that were once flashpoints, such as attempts to resolve years of bloodshed in Libya.

The Quirinale Treaty, which is loosely based on a Franco-German agreement from 1963, will lead to Paris and Rome finding common ground ahead of EU meetings, much as France now does with Germany on important European policy decisions.

Draghi said that the two countries will begin "new types of collaboration" in the areas of energy, technology, research, and development. He also said that an Italian minister will attend a French cabinet meeting at least once per quarter, and vice versa.

In the space industry, France and Italy agreed to cooperate and encourage "reciprocal investment" as well as create "shared strategy in international markets."

In recent years, French corporations have made significant investments in Italy, but Italian lawmakers have accused Paris of being less cooperative when it comes to cross-border negotiations.

Fincantieri's proposal to take over Chantiers de l'Atlantique, a French competitor, was halted earlier this year by EU competition concerns.

Officials in Italy believe Paris was actively working behind the scenes to derail the agreement.

Written By: Olivium's Staff.


References:

  • Vampa, D. (2021). COVID-19 and Territorial Policy Dynamics in Western Europe: Comparing France, Spain, Italy, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Publius: The Journal of Federalism, 51(4), 601-626.
  • Ramani, S. (2022). EU–Gulf Relations in Post-Brexit Environment. In Post-Brexit Europe and UK (pp. 69-97). Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore.
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