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Aspen Italy/France Forum

Digital format, 10/12/2021, International Conference

Italy and France have solid relations built on a common history of strong economic and cultural ties. An important addition to those relations is the Quirinale Treaty signed in Rome on November 26. This strengthening of bilateral cooperation is crucial, in the first place, to the future of European economic governance. In the coming months, fiscal policy rules will be written into a revised Stability and Growth Pact within the framework of the French EU presidency. New rules on State Aid will also be outlined along with a framework of reforms needed to make the continent more competitive. In this sense, the Treaty’s main objective is to share the management of challenges through a close and continued dialogue at various political and administrative levels, as well as economic and social actors. The goal is to shape a strategic vision that, in the interests of both nations, lays a more solid foundation for the European construction.

Indeed, the future of the European Union depends on the outcome of two major transitions in which Europe wishes to play a leading role. In the digital transition, Italy and France have both taken up the challenge of increasing the continent’s sovereignty during a technological revolution that not only has immediate effects on the daily life of citizens, but is also pivotal to ensuring economic competitiveness. On the other hand, with its forefront position in setting the climate neutrality goals of the energy transition, the EU must now strike a balance with the economic and social sustainability of the industrial system. Indeed, de-carbonization affects every aspect of the European economy, from education to social welfare, defense and strategic industrial production.

It is precisely with regard to industrial relations that the Quirinal Treaty offers another important opportunity for Italy and France. The two have often found it difficult to reconcile their respective economic policies, with problems arising in sectors such as energy, telecommunications and defense. On this latter aspect, the Treaty sets the common goal of providing greater strategic autonomy to a Europe exposed to changes in the geopolitical priorities of the United States. However, this context is one that will call for a more determined effort at shortening the distances between Rome and Paris on transatlantic relations.

Redressing differences remains critical to regional cooperation as well. The tensions between the two countries on key issues such as Libya have left room for the maneuverings of extra-European powers such as Turkey and Russia. The Quirinal Treaty will offer Europe an opportunity to formulate clear and consistent policies on both the Mediterranean and Africa.