Italy - Q&A - Excerpts from the daily press briefing (13.06.18)

Q - How do you respond to statements by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who accuses France of giving “hypocritical” lessons and of “turning its back as soon as it’s a matter of immigration”?

A - We are perfectly aware of the pressure that migration places on Italy and of the efforts that country is making. None of the comments made by the French authorities was entirely challenged, nor was the need for Europeans to coordinate closely.

President Macron and Prime Minister Conte met in Charlevoix, on the sidelines of the G7, and the interior minister spoke yesterday with his new Italian counterpart.

We are committed to the dialogue and cooperation we have with Rome on these issues.

For our two countries, it is essential to rapidly reach an agreement on reshaping the European asylum system, to strengthen our joint efforts with respect to countries of origin and transit, and more broadly, to step up protection of our external borders. That is the purpose of the work we intend to continue doing with our Italian partners in the coming days, and which will, of course, be central to the meeting on Friday between President Macron and Prime Minister Conte. When it comes to these issues, only a coordinated response can be effective.

Q - Italy summoned the French ambassador to Rome after statements by the President’s Office on the fate of the Aquarius that were deemed “surprising.” How is the Quai d’Orsay responding to this summons? Is the Italian Prime Minister’s visit to Paris scheduled for Friday being called into question? Does France also intend to summon the Italian ambassador to Paris?

A - As the Italian Foreign Ministry announced in its communiqué, the Italian authorities have summoned our ambassador “following statements made in France about the Aquarius case.” It is not up to us to comment on that decision.

President Macron invited the Italian Prime Minister to Paris on Friday as part of our ongoing dialogue with Italy, a dialogue we hope will always be close, in order to work together on preparations for the European Council in June, to discuss the most important international matters and to continue our bilateral cooperation.