Despite the coronavirus crisis, Emmanuel Macron is expected Thursday in Naples for a Franco-Italian summit which is to act “the revival” of bilateral relations, strongly shaken in the last two years by the arrival of a populist government in Rome.
Scheduled for a long time, this summit has been maintained by the Italian authorities although the peninsula is the European country most affected by the epidemic of viral pneumonia, with 12 deaths and 400 cases recorded, according to the latest assessment of the authorities.
“It is important to be present” alongside the Italians “in this difficult context,” said the Elysee.
Emmanuel Macron will be accompanied by eleven ministers for this 35th Franco-Italian summit, which will be held Thursday afternoon at the Royal Palace in Naples in the presence of the President of the Italian Council Giuseppe Conte and twelve members of his government.
For Paris as for Rome, it is about “relaunching a deep bilateral relationship and of trust”, explains the French Presidency.
A year ago, the climate was thunderstorm between the two capitals, engaged in a war of words that had continued to swell after the formation of a populist government led by the 5-star movement and the League.
The crisis culminated in early 2019 when the Vice-President of the Italian Council, Luigi Di Maio, met in France with a leader of the “yellow vests””. Shortly before, the Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini had called for the resignation of the French president.
To protest, Paris had temporarily recalled its ambassador to Italy, the most serious transalpine diplomatic crisis since 1945.
Relations have gradually normalized since the departure, in the summer of 2019, of the League of Matteo Salvini and the advent of a new Conte coalition government between the 5 stars and the center-left Democratic Party.
– “No stigma” –
“We have gone through a period of crisis” but it has “left no scars” and “cooperation is good today”, said one at the Elysee Palace. By stressing that Paris and Rome were now “aligned” on many issues, especially Europeans, including that of migrants, on which tensions had crystallized.
Symbol of this new agreement, the two capitals want to relaunch the Quirinal Treaty (name of the seat of the Italian presidency), announced in 2017 to give “a more stable and ambitious framework” to Franco-Italian cooperation, along the lines of the treaty Franco-German.
The major bilateral economic issues will also be discussed: the Naviris joint venture, created by the Italian Fincantieri and the French Naval Group; the future PSA-Fiat alliance; the Lyon-Turin railway line, work on which has started …
Discussions will also focus on the situation in Libya, an issue where differences have subsided, and in the Sahel, France hoping that Italy will become more involved in the fight against jihadist groups.
Before the summit, Emmanuel Macron will make a cultural escapade in the historic center of Naples. “It is a very special city, which is dear to me,” he said in an interview with Rai Uno in March 2019.
After visiting the Sansevero chapel, he and the mayor Luigi de Magistris will go to the San Ferdinando theater, associated with the memory of the dramatist Eduardo de Filippo, author of the play “The Art of Comedy”.
In an interview with Elle in 2017, Brigitte Macron said that it was “working” on this piece that the romantic relationship was formed between her, then theater teacher in Amiens, and the high school student that was Emmanuel Macron .
The summit will conclude with a gala dinner hosted by President Sergio Mattarella, who could pay a state visit to France by the end of the year.