Italy and France have signed a “historic” treaty.
In the midst of a European Union in flux, France and Italy drew a line under recent tensions and signed a new treaty to formalize their relations on Friday.
At President Sergio Mattarella’s Quirinale palace, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi signed a document.
Following that, both countries’ air forces put on an aerial acrobatic show.
The leaders of the two Mediterranean countries, who have long been linked by historical, cultural, and linguistic ties, spoke at a press conference about their closeness as well as their shared dedication to the EU enterprise.
It is a “historic moment,” according to Draghi, that “intends to favor and expedite the path of European integration.”
The contract, according to Macron, “seals a deep bond.”
He continued, “As founding countries of the EU, we advocate a more integrated, democratic, and sovereign Europe.”
The treaty was agreed just weeks before France assumes the rotating EU presidency in January, at a time when the continent is undergoing significant upheaval.
The EU has been roiled by Britain’s complicated exit and disputes between the EU’s liberal democracies and their eastern neighbors, while its de facto head, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, is finally stepping down after September elections.
The so-called Qurinale Treaty covers a wide range of topics, including economics, industry, culture, and education, as well as security, cross-border cooperation, and foreign affairs.
Macron mentioned that the two countries had “tough periods,” most likely referring to a diplomatic spat in early 2019, when Italy’s populist government openly chastised Macron.
With the election of a new government in Rome later that year, relations improved further, and with the appointment of Mario Draghi, a former European Central Bank president, early this year, relations have improved even further.
Draghi expressed his gratitude to Macron for handing over former members of the far-left Red Brigades, which terrorized Italy in the 1970s and 1980s. For decades, their safe refuge in France has been a source of conflict.
Italy has also been irritated by the fact that it feels abandoned by European friends in the face of the tens of thousands of migrants from North Africa who come on its beaches each year.
Both sides agreed, according to Draghi, on the need for a common EU migration and asylum policy.
With a child abuse scandal consuming the Catholic Church in France, Macron had a private session with Pope Francis later.