Correspondent in Rome
The French President, Emmanuel Macron, is in Rome to sign this Friday with the primer Italian Minister, Mario Draghi, the Quirinal Treaty, with the ambition to strengthen its influence in Europe. The Franco-Italian ‘treaty of friendship’, which consists of 60 pages, will establish an unprecedented relationship between the two countries. It reflects in part the agreement that France and Germany signed in 1963, between Charles De Gaulle and Konrad AdenauerAlthough they are not comparable agreements because in that case it was made to reconcile the two countries after the war. It will not be a simple declaration of intent. The document, in addition to reflecting the common values of Italy and France, identifies in a concrete way how the two countries will pursue the objectives set out in eleven thematic chapters.
Their enumeration reflects the importance of the treaty: Foreign, Defense, Europe, Migration, Justice, Economic development, Sustainability and ecological transition, Space, Education, training and culture, Youth, Cross-border cooperation and public administration.
The idea of the treaty came up in September 2017, at a Franco-Italian summit in Lyon, when it was Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. But shortly after, the project fell into a dead end, when the populist coalition formed by the League and the 5-Star Movement (M5E) reached the Government of Italy in 2018. Rome and Paris collided head-on, especially on the issue of immigration and a crisis even broke out after the M5E’s support for the ‘yellow vests’. There was even an exchange of insults, which led to the French call to its ambassador in Rome, in February 2019. But Mario Draghi, who has a good relationship with Emmanuel Macron, reactivated with the French president the ‘treaty of friendship’. Essentially, the deal has been negotiated under the leadership of Draghi and Macron. The result is the Treatise of the Quirinal, which reflects how things have changed between Paris and Rome, in a very short time, practically since Draghi’s arrival at Chigi Palace last February. Now, the sovereignist-populists, the League and the Five Star Movement have moderated as part of Draghi’s unity government and are in favor of the treaty.
The two leaders, Draghi and Macron, will benefit, as will France and Italy, which will also help to strengthen the European Union, in particular the core of moderate countries. The former president of the European Central Bank hopes to play a more active role in the EU and give more projection to Italy. For this it needs France. Given his international prestige, Draghi is seen more and more as the Chancellor Angela Merkel’s successor, bearing in mind that the new German Government, with Olaf Scholz as Chancellor, will focus more on domestic politics. For his part, Macrón hopes to gain influence with a view to next year’s presidential elections and will be able to count on a solid ally during the semester of the French presidency that begins in January 2022.
Macron’s original idea of the Franco-Italian treaty was balancing German economic superiority. Today Rome and Paris are united against the hypothesis of returning to austerity, an idea that will reappear after the pandemic in German public opinion and in the so-called frugal countries, the Nordics. «The ultimate goal is unite the weight of Paris and Rome to avoid a possible return to austerity imposed by the next chancellor, capable of leading the two Latin countries to a serious problem. The intention of the Treaty is to force Germany to maintain an expansionary fiscal policy, ”says Dario Fabri, an international policy analyst.
The Quirinal Treaty does not mean that, from now on, everything will be easy between the two countries. Their relations have sometimes been difficult in the economic field, with friction between some Italian and French companies. In some Italian media it is often seen with suspicion the landing of French capital. “We have become a French colony.” This bitter accusation can be heard on certain occasions in the mouths of some Italian politicians and businessmen, fearful of the push of French capitalism to take over important sectors of Italy. On this occasion, sources from the Elysee have denied such intentions on the part of France.
Draghi distinguishes between France and Spain
Apart from Europe, the chapter of the Treaty dedicated to Foreign Affairs, specifies three priorities: Mediterranean, Balkans and Africa. It should be noted that when Mario Draghi addressed the country for the first time, in the programmatic speech in the Senate, on February 17, he already highlighted what were the Italy’s strategic allies: referred to France and Italy, limiting itself to talking about collaboration with Spain: «Italy must structure and strengthen the essential strategic relationship with France and Germany, as well as consolidating collaboration with States with which we share a specific Mediterranean sensitivity to environmental and migratory problems: Spain, Greece, Malta and Cyprus».
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism