Italy, France to deepen ties as Merkel exit tests EU diplomacy


  • France, Italy seal pact on economic rapprochement and other ties
  • Coinciding with the changing of the guard in Germany
  • No realignment in Paris priorities – French diplomat
  • Difficult relations improved after Draghi became Prime Minister of Italy

ROME, November 26 (Reuters) – Italian and French leaders will sign a treaty on Friday to strengthen bilateral ties as European diplomacy is put to the test by the departure of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Quirinal Treaty aims to strengthen cooperation between Paris and Rome in areas such as defense, migration, economy, culture and trade.

The signing ceremony comes shortly after a new coalition pact was struck in Germany, ending the 16-year reign of Merkel, who was the undisputed leader of Europe and forged particularly close ties with the successive French leaders.

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Berlin’s new administration is expected to be more introverted, especially at the start of its tenure, and Paris and Rome are keen to deepen their relationship in a time clouded by economic uncertainty, the pandemic, a more assertive Russia, a rising China and states. – United more disengaged.

“Macron’s intention is to create a new axis with Italy, while it is in Italy’s interest to partner with the France-Germany duo,” a prominent Italian diplomatic source said , who wished to remain anonymous.

RENAISSANCE

Originally envisaged in 2017, negotiations on the new treaty were halted in 2018 when a populist government took office in Rome and clashed with Macron over immigration.

Relations reached a low in 2019 when Macron briefly recalled France’s ambassador to Italy, but there was a revival this year after former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi was appointed as head of an Italian unity government.

A French diplomatic source rejected suggestions that the new axis between the European Union’s second and third economies represented a realignment of Paris’s diplomatic priorities.

“We have never played the triangle of jealousy with European partners. These bilateral relations, when they are strong (…) complement each other,” said the source.

The Quirinal Treaty, named after the residence of the Italian president and loosely modeled on a 1963 Franco-German pact, is expected to lead Paris and Rome to seek common ground before EU summits, just like France. is already coordinating the main European political measures with Germany.

Full details of the pact have not been released, but there will be particular interest in sections covering economic ties and cooperation in strategic sectors.

French companies have invested heavily in Italy in recent years, but Italian politicians have accused Paris of being less open when Italian companies seek cross-border deals.

Earlier this year, the bid by state-owned shipbuilder Fincantieri to take over its French counterpart Chantiers de l’Atlantique collapsed, thwarted by EU competition concerns.

Italian officials suspected Paris of actively seeking to undermine the deal behind the scenes.

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Editing by Gareth Jones

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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