Q: How do you assess Italy’s management of the coronavirus crisis? Isn’t European solidarity being put to a harsh test during this crisis?
A: In the current context of the COVID-19 epidemic, France wants to reaffirm its absolute solidarity with the people and authorities of Italy, who are facing COVID-19 with courage and resolve.
President Macron’s visit to Naples with 11 ministers on February 27 for the 35th French-Italian summit provided an opportunity to demonstrate this solidarity in practice and to highlight the many ties of friendship and cooperation between our two countries. The Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs is in regular contact with his Italian counterpart, Luigi di Maio, on developments in the situation, and our diplomatic and consular network remains fully mobilized. The Minister of State for European Affairs attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs spoke today with her Italian counterpart, Vincenzo Amendola, to convey the French authorities’ solidarity and to review the measures put in place in Italy and at the European level.
Now more than ever, the crisis calls for a European response that must be resolute, comprehensive, coordinated, proportionate, and equal to the challenges, with mobilization at the highest levels. Since the beginning of the crisis, France has always defended the institution, acceleration and strengthening of European coordination. It was in this spirit that it called and supported the special videoconference of the European Council of March 10, which significantly strengthened all European coordination, information exchange, scientific assessment and economic support mechanisms, as well as the purchase and supply of protective materials and equipment. President Macron reaffirmed his opposition, on that occasion, to the unjustified and unilateral closure of borders, especially those concerning Italy.
The establishment of a common procedure with Italy for the purchase of respiratory equipment is both a sign and an example of the European coordination and solidarity we are instituting among EU member countries.