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MNI (London)
Repeats Story Initially Transmitted at 07:03 GMT Jan 11/02:03 EST Jan 11
--Neighbours Look To Build On 'Med League' Talks, Push Common EU Goals
By Silvia Marchetti
     ROME (MNI) - Italy and France are set to launch a bilateral treaty that
enhances cooperation in addressing shared European challenges, paving the way to
a new Rome-Paris reform axis, government sources have told Market News.
     According one one senior government official, Italian prime minister Paolo
Gentiloni and French president Emmanuel Macron are expected to meet for
bilateral talks in Rome later Thursday, to expand on discussions held with other
leaders from the European Union's Mediterranean region on Wednesday. 
     "We are very satisfied about this renewed excellent cooperation that leads
to the birth of a strong Rome-Paris engine able to drive crucial EU governance
reform objectives such as common financing for defence and security,
immigration, and burden-sharing at all levels," said the official, who is
closely following the talks.
     The leaders found solid common ground at the Mediterranean League summit in
Rome  and will now hold further talks on Europe's reform process.
     The source however argued that Italy's goal was a partnership with France
that was "inclusive" rather than "exclusive", open to other members willing to
team up to give Europe an adequate makeover.
     The new agreement, dubbed the "Quirinale Treaty", is expected to be
officially launched at the France-Italy bilateral summit in September, said the
     The official stressed that much unites the neighbours. Both are pushing for
an EU-level public backstop to tackle financial crises across the bloc and for
the completion of the banking union with the implementation of the so-called
"third-leg", the common deposit insurance scheme.
     Additionally, both Rome and Paris are against imposing a cap on the amount
of sovereign bonds that can be held by banks and ending the zero-risk era for
holdings of treasury securities.
     Above all, their alliance is reinforced by shared concerns over their
fiscal positions and unstable finances, which are constantly under scrutiny by
     Rome and Paris are both pushing for a more growth-oriented Europe, with
less austerity. Their common fiscal agenda is therefore in contrast with
Germany's more orthodox stance.
     In the wake of the German political crisis and of Italy's increased
credibility on the European stage, Italian officials believe Macron will be less
pivoted towards Berlin and more pro-Rome in his outlook.
     "Germany's stalemate in forming a new government stands as a window of
opportunity for enhanced French-Italian ties in pursuing European reforms," said
Democrat senator Maria Spilabotte.
     Italy has gone from being a "doppelganger" for indebted Greece, ready to
collapse at any moment under the weight of public debt, to a credible partner
that meets its fiscal and reform commitments and deserves to be one of Europe's
top players and leaders, Spilabotte noted.
     According to Democrat deputy Michele Bordo, president of the Lower House's
EU Affairs committee, "strengthening French-Italian relations is paramount to
boost convergence, rally consensus for change across the whole bloc and save the
European project".
     The Italian government sees Paris as a strong ally with whom to pursue
pro-growth investments and innovation policies in Europe, whilst jointly
tackling the immigration problem, Bordo said.
     Macron is well aware that Rome has become the main interlocutor with Libya
and other African authorities in slowing the flow of migrants.
     "For too long, Italy was left alone in facing the immigration crisis. Now,
finally, we have a key European player backing us," added Bordo.
--MNI London Bureau; tel: +44 203-586-2225; email:
MNI London Bureau | +44 203-865-3812 |
MNI London Bureau | +44 203-865-3812 |