After a few years of turbulent relations between Paris and Rome, France and Italy have definitively sealed their reconciliation with the signing this Friday of the Quirinal Treaty, a far-reaching pact intended to strengthen bilateral relations between the second and third European economies. . It is a significant signing at a time of great community uncertainty, due to the pandemic, economic recovery, Brexit or tensions over the rule of law between Brussels and Warsaw and Budapest. In this context, France and Italy seek to present themselves as a guarantee of stability.
It is also the greatest demonstration to date of the understanding between French President Emmanuel Macron and the Italian Mario Draghi, two technocrats who understand each other well – they have seen each other up to six times in nine months – and seem position themselves to gain more influence in European politics after Angela Merkel steps down after sixteen years in power.
The pact aims to strengthen cooperation in key areas such as migration, security or European defense
The signing, in fact, comes just after the agreement of the new coalition pact in Germany, which will end the era of Merkel, who over the years had forged a close relationship, especially with French leaders. Months after Draghi’s appointment as prime minister, France extradited ten early terrorists who had resided on French territory for half their lives benefiting from a controversial asylum policy, paving the way for the meeting .
The Quirinal Treaty, named after the sumptuous seat of the Presidency of the Italian Republic, where it was signed, aims to increase cooperation in key areas such as 5G, defense and security, economy and industry, culture, migration or space. From now on, the two countries should consult each other to establish common positions before taking major European decisions. It also includes a commitment to strengthen the European defense project complementary to NATO, a priority for Macron, and a mechanism for an Italian minister to attend a French government meeting once a quarter, and vice versa. In a way, they want to imitate the Elysée Treaty, signed between Paris and Berlin in 1963 to revive relations after the Second World War, renewed in Aachen in 2019 between Merkel and Macron.
The agreement comes after a year-long negotiation between the two administrations. It began to mature at the Italian-French summit in Lyon in September 2017, when Paolo Gentiloni was still governing Italy. “They asked me why there was no equivalent to the Elysée Treaty, and I replied that a Quirinal Treaty was needed,” Macron revealed today.
But since then, there have been many clashes, especially during the first government of Giuseppe Conte with the 5 Star Movement (M5E) and the League. The tension, palpable by the attacks of then Interior Minister Matteo Salvini on the migration issue, became a real diplomatic crisis when in 2019 Macron called his ambassador to Italy for consultations after the Deputy Prime Minister at the time, Luigi Di Maio – now Foreign Affairs Minister – traveled to the French capital to salute the yellow vests. According to French diplomacy, relations were at their most critical point since the Second World War.
Hearing at the Vatican
Macron, visiting Rome, is also received by Pope Francis
By stitching up the wounds, the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, who offered a dinner at the Quirinal on Thursday, played a key role. The resumption of relations with France is a personal success for the Head of State, who arrives as his term of office is about to end in January. Draghi and Macron publicly thanked him for his efforts.
“This is a historic moment in the history of relations between the two countries. France and Italy are consolidating their diplomatic, political and cultural ties. From today we are even closer,” Draghi remarked.
The signing took place during Macron’s official visit to Italy, which includes an audience this Friday with Pope Francis, an unusual visit because the pontiff does not usually receive leaders in the run-up to election time. The French president is trying to convince him to go to Brussels or Strasbourg at the beginning of next year to send a message to relaunch the role of Europe.