Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Luigi Di Maio and French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian met on the sidelines of the Rome MED 2020 - Mediterranean Dialogues, when they both participated in the first session of the “Heal and Rebuild: A Positive Agenda for the EU in the Enlarged Mediterranean” panel.
This meeting provided an opportunity to review the follow-up to the summit in Naples in February. In this respect, the two ministers welcomed the faster pace of bilateral relations following the summit, despite the obstacles posed by the pandemic and confirmed their mutual commitment to developing close consultation and cooperation in all areas of common interest, notably with a view toward a treaty on increased bilateral cooperation.
In this context, the ministers agreed to give special attention to coordination on priority issues on the European agenda, notably with respect to the fight against the pandemic, the multiannual financial framework, and the Next Generation EU instrument. The two ministers also agreed on the need to swiftly adopt the European recovery plan – the approval of which both countries made a decisive contribution to in July – while calling on all EU member states to adopt a responsible attitude, in a context marked by the urgency and seriousness of the health and economic situation throughout Europe.
The ministers also addressed other issues that are priorities for Europe, such as coordinating the fight against Covid, security in the Schengen Area, the new Pact on Migration and Asylum, reviving the Southern Neighborhood policy, and the situation in the eastern Mediterranean. With respect to the latter, the ministers emphasized the need to defend EU interests and the sovereign rights of its member states, and their willingness to expand cooperation with Turkey – a NATO member and strategic stakeholder – in all areas of common interest, if that country’s attitude allows for it. In all of these areas, the two ministers agreed that Italy and France must work together to ensure converging views on the European level.
Lastly, there was an exchange of views on the latest developments in Libya and the identification of shared priorities in support of the inter-Libyan dialogue process conducted under the auspices of the UN, particularly within the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, and the implementation of the ceasefire of October 23. The Ministers reiterated the wishes expressed in the Joint Statement of November 23 following the first Libyan Political Dialogue Forum in Tunis and renewed their call to all Libyan and international stakeholders to support the dialogue process and to refrain from any kind of interference.
The two ministers underscored the need for an ongoing relationship through regular contacts on bilateral, European and international issues of common interest.