Mr. Harlem Désir, Minister of State for European Affairs, will today participate in Rome in a conference organized by the Aspen Institute entitled “What can Europeans do together to form a political union?” alongside Mr. Giorgio Napolitano, former President of the Republic of Italy, Mr. Paolo Gentiloni, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Mr. Sandro Gozi, his Italian counterpart.
Franco-Italian relations are dense, commensurate with the cooperation with one of France’s neighboring partners, founding member of the European Union, and closely linked through economic trade, culture, and history to our country.
Bilateral cooperation is marked by an annual summit, institutionalized in February 1982 in Rome. The 29th summit was held in Rome on April 26th, 2011. It helped ease the bilateral relationship, marked by tensions regarding Libyan, migration, and economicissues:
With regards to the Libyan issue, Italy confirmed the participation of its air force in ground strikes in Libya. The two countries supported releasing frozen Libyan funds to provide for funding humanitarian aid.
A foreign policy statement was adopted. It mentions the common views of both countries regarding the Mediterranean and the common security and defense policy. With regards to the Mediterranean, France and Italy expressed their support for the transition to democracy, and their willingness to work together to ensure that the EU is fully responsive to these changes, particularly through strengthening its southern neighborhood policy, including financially. In terms of European defense, the two countries would like to strengthen the EU’s capacity for action, wherever the situation and EU interests require, and suggest, among other things, strengthening the EU’s planning capabilities in Brussels.
Regarding immigration, Presidents Sarkozy and Berlusconi sent a joint letter to the presidents of the Commission and the European Council. This letter invites leaders in Brussels to discuss reforming the governance of the Schengen Agreement, including the possibility of temporarily reintroducing checks at internal borders. The letter calls on the EU to find an overall agreement with its southern Mediterranean neighbors and provide them the EU’s support in return for their commitment in combatting illegal immigration. France and Italy also call for greater convergence between Member States to move towards a common European asylum scheme and strengthening Frontex.
On economic issues, France and Italy have decided to set up a high-level working group co-chaired by the two presidencies’ general secretaries, in order to manage the most challenging issues. The importance of building large Franco-Italian groups was emphasized.
The next bilateral summit will be held in Lyon, at the beginning of December 2012.
There are periodic bilateral political contacts, regarding international crises, European issues, and economic issues. The two countries maintain close cooperation in the G20 / G8. Italy, a UN hub in the field of agriculture, plays an active role in promoting the theme of agricultural commodity price regulation. It shares France’s major priorities, particularly with regards to financial regulation and greater efficiency in the global institutional system. Rome remains highly attached to the informal nature of the G20 and maintaining a key role in the G8.
The President of the Italian Republic, Mr. Giorgio Napolitano, was received by the Head of State on September 29th, 2010, as part of a visit to France for the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Italian unity. On June 2nd, 2011, the President of the Senate visited Rome to represent France at the ceremonies for the 150th anniversary.
The arrival of the new government will provide for stepping up dialogue and joint work between our two countries. The initial contacts between President of the Republic François Hollande and Mario Monti, and between the two Foreign Ministers have highlighted the proximity of views and willingness for joint action, particularly in Europe and the Mediterranean. In addition, the governments maintained continuing cooperation, including regular meetings between the Foreign Ministries’ General Secretaries, the most recent of which was held in April 2011.
A Franco-Italian forum regarding civil society was established in 2002. The sixth forum met in April 2010, alongside the Franco-Italian summit, on the topics of green growth and economic cooperation in the Mediterranean region. Hosted by the Economy, Finance, and Employment Ministry, it was marked by the participation of CEOs from the largest business groups in both countries.
Updated on 01.10.12
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