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France-Italy: strengthening obvious proximity

Editorial of the “World”. The choreography was perfectly executed and nothing was missing, not even emotion. Friday, November 26, in Rome, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian President Mario Draghi signed a treaty binding the two countries. Then, side by side, the fighter planes of the Patrouille de France and the Italian Frecce tricolori flew over the city, mixing the colors of the two tricolor flags.

The four years of gestation of this Quirinal treaty were anything but peaceful: from June 2018 to August 2019, under the first Conte government, combining two Eurosceptic formations, the 5-star Movement (anti-system) and the League (far right), Paris and Rome even seemed further apart than ever before.

But on Friday, those memories were forgotten. Former political leader of the 5-Star Movement, Luigi Di Maio, who visited “yellow vests” in Montargis in February 2019, challenging Emmanuel Macron, was among the Italian delegation as foreign minister.

The weight of the unspoken

Since the appointment of former President of the European Central Bank (ECB) Mario Draghi as head of the Italian government in February, Paris and Rome seem to be living a moment of harmony unparalleled in recent history. This is very much due to the people of Emmanuel Macron and Mario Draghi, who are in agreement on most of the major issues. But we do not build diplomacy on a lasting basis on personal affinities. Also, it is when we think of the inevitable future tensions that the treaty takes on its full meaning.

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France and Italy are indeed so close, by history and culture, that harmony seems to go without saying. However, nothing is more wrong, and the ignorance of some subtle differences is at the origin of frequent misunderstandings. There are also the usual subjects of friction: the quarrels of influence in the Mediterranean, migrations and the economy provoke, since the XIXe century, fever flares. Where it is customary to use the image of the “couple” to define the Franco-German alliance, which refers to the idea of ​​a choice, rational or sentimental, the Franco-Italian relationship is evoked on the more often by terms from the family register – “brothers” or “cousins” -, which can evoke the obviousness of a proximity or the weight of the unspoken.

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It is regrettable that the text, which provides for enhanced cooperation in matters of diplomacy and defense, as well as in areas such as digital, environmental and space transitions, contains very few novelties or concrete short-term ambitions. Faced with this shyness, the business world and the whole of society, where countless shared realities are expressed, seem far ahead of politics.

When it was signed in January 1963, the Elysée Treaty between France and Germany – to which the Quirinal Treaty explicitly refers – aimed to repair the wounds of three Franco-German wars in less than a century. and to bring people together beyond the millions of dead. France and Italy, in 2021, have no need for historic reconciliation: it is rather a question of creating mechanisms to defuse crises, as well as systems of convergence. It is not forbidden to dream that we can go further in the future. The Franco-German treaty of 1963 was not an accomplishment but a starting point. We must hope that it will be the same with this treatise of the Quirinal.

The world

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