France, Italy sign treaty to formalise ties

47
2
France, Italy sign treaty to formalise ties

France and Italy signed a new treaty to formalise their relations against the backdrop of a European Union in turmoil.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi put pen to paper at the Quirinale palace of President Sergio Mattarella.

Both countries' air forces performed an aerial acrobatic display.

The leaders of the two Mediterranean powers, long bound by historical, cultural, and linguistic ties, emphasised their closeness but also their joint commitment to the wider EU project at a press conference.

Draghi said that it is a historic moment that will speed up the process of integrating the EU's European integration Founding countries. He said that we want to be more democratic, more democratic, more sovereign in Europe.

The treaty was signed just weeks before France took over the rotating EU presidency in January, and at a time of change on the continent.

After September's elections, Britain's messy exit and rows between the EU's liberal democracies and their eastern neighbours have roiled the bloc, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel is finally bowing out.

The so-called Qurinale Treaty covers the economy and industry, culture and education, security, cross-border cooperation and foreign affairs.

Macron said that the two countries had had difficult moments, which could be a reference to a diplomatic crisis in early 2019 when Italy's populist government publicly criticised the French president.

With the arrival of Draghi, a former European Central Bank chief, the ties went from strength to strength with a new government in Rome later that year.

Draghi thanked Macron for handing over former members of the far-left Red Brigades group that terrorised Italy in the 1970s and 1980s, and their safe haven for decades in France had been a long-standing source of tension.

There has been a lot of irritation in Italy over the feeling that European allies have left Italy to face tens of thousands of migrants from North Africa who arrive on its shores each year.

Draghi said both sides agreed on the need for a shared EU migration and asylum policy.

Macron later had a private audience with Pope Francis, with a child abuse scandal engulfing the Catholic Church in France.