Italy and France announce a bilateral agreement to strengthen their “historic” union
- The closing of the French borders to irregular immigrants in June 2015 caused a crisis between Rome and Paris that today seems forgotten
- Southern European leaders call for solidarity with the EU in the face of the challenge of immigration
Italy and France collaboration agreement:
Italy and France have announced the signing of a collaboration agreement to reinforce the common position of both States facing the challenge of immigration, terrorism, economic and environmental development.
After the summit of southern European countries held yesterday in Rome, which was attended by the Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, and the leaders of France, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Malta and Cyprus, French President Emmanuel Macron , he met this morning with the Italian Prime Minister, Paolo Gentiloni , to lay the foundations of a bilateral agreement that strengthens relations between both countries. An idea that was already put on the table after the meeting between the two held in September last year in Lyon.
“We have decided to give a more stable and ambitious framework to the idea. born during the Lyon summit, of a bilateral treaty that has an even more systematic structure and is favorable to our cooperation,” said Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. the press conference after the meeting between both leaders. “The Treaty makes our relations even stronger , ” he added.
The ‘Treaty of the Quirinal’ – seat of the Presidency of the Republic of Italy -, as the agreement has been baptized, was born following the model followed between France and Germany in 1963, and should be materialized in the coming months. The objective is, according to both leaders, to give “new perspectives and forms of cooperation” to the relations between both States . Macron announced the formation of a group of “high level” to delineate the bases of this agreement to be signed before the end of 2018.
“There is a structural Franco-German relationship at the origin of Europe, and when France and Germany do not agree, Europe can not go forward,” Macron said. But this agreement is not exclusive. “The relationship between France and Italy has common cultural roots”, is a “special” friendship that feeds on “cooperation from a very important economic point of view”, added the French president. “And it is not in competition or is less than the Franco-German, but perfectly complementary,” he underlined.
The challenge of immigration:
As was clear yesterday, after the summit of the leaders of the seven countries of southern Europe, immigration is still one of the issues that most concern Spain, Italy, France and the rest of the countries that are the gateway to Europe. for most of the immigrants who cross the Mediterranean from North Africa. The closing of the French borders to irregular immigrants in June 2015 caused a crisis between Rome and Paris that today seems forgotten.
Italy was then overwhelmed by the arrival of refugees after the upsurge of the war in Syria . But France’s refusal to admit those trying to reach northern Europe across the Franco-Italian border – under the Dublin regulation, which establishes the criteria for granting asylum – meant that hundreds of them had to survive during months camped and in terrible conditions in Ventimiglia, a small Italian town located in the border with France.
Gentiloni took advantage of the press conference to boast of the decrease in the arrival of immigrants to the Italian coasts in the last year thanks to the agreement signed with Libya. According to data released by Frontex, last year some 119,000 migrants arrived in the trasalpine country, 34% less than the previous year. “We have achieved great results in the fight against trafficking in human beings in 2017. We are proud and believe that European policies have to go in this direction”said Gentiloni. The acting Italian prime minister said he did not have a “miracle recipe” to end the problem of large migratory flows but explained that cooperation in this regard with France can be “a model” for the rest of Europe. “We have to assume the responsibility of managing in an organized way the phenomenon of trafficking in human beings” and fight against “criminality”, he stressed. Macron, meanwhile, also highlighted the “good work” of Italy “to reduce the destabilization caused by the migration phenomenon.”
The leaders of France and Italy announced that both countries will continue to work together to reinforce a common economic position, especially in the industrial and naval sectors. Last summer both countries ended a dispute with the signing of an agreement on the strategic STX shipyards of Saint-Nazaire, which France nationalized temporarily so that they could not be acquired by the Italian company Fincantieri, causing a new crisis between Rome and Paris. Finally, after weeks of tension, the governments of both countries agreed that the transalpine company would acquire 50% of the shipyards, plus 1% provided by the French country, which reserved the right to intervene in case of non-compliance by part of your partner.
“Europe is an economic, social, environmental and scientific power” , and that is why it is necessary “to move forward, to accelerate” to create greater integration. Because otherwise, said Macron, there is a risk of giving wings to populisms, which take advantage of the “European inability to protect peoples,” he said.
The French president did not want to express his opinion on the upcoming Italian general elections , which will be held on March 4, but his reflection on populism was interpreted as a slam to the anti-European aspirations of some Italian parties, such as the 5-Star Movement or the xenophobic Northern League. “Europe is positive for Italy and Italy is positive for Europe,” he concluded.