Draghi and Macron signed in Rome the Quirinale Treaty, that strenghtens bilateral cooperation on issues such as defence, industry, international affairs and the environment. Italy and France demonstrate they want to work together towards a “united and sovereign” Europe.

Italy and France are now closer. On Friday 26, at the Quirinale, the residence of the President of the Italian Republic, Prime Minister Mario Draghi and President Emmanuel Macron signed the “Treaty between Italy and France for a Strengthened Bilateral Cooperation”, also known as the Quirinale Treaty.

Italy - France: The signing of the Quirinale Treaty with Draghi, Macron, Mattarella, Di Maio and Le Drian
The signing of the Quirinale Treaty

The signing took place in the presence of President Sergio Mattarella and the Italian and French delegations, which included Foreign Ministers Luigi Di Maio and Yves Le Drian

A similar agreement had already been discussed 4 years ago, when Paolo Gentiloni was Prime Minister. Then, negotiations came to a halt in 2018 after disagreements between France and the coalition government led by Giuseppe Conte. The signing of the Quirinale Treaty underlines the importance of a relationship that has deep historical and cultural roots and which will be crucial in defining the future of the European Union.  

As Prime Minister Draghi explained, the Quirinale Treaty “arises from the awareness of the depth of our ties. [With this treaty] we strengthen cooperation between our two states, we create bilateral institutions to make it more structured, we support the activities of our citizens and of our companies“. 

Draghi e Macron’s press conference held after the signing ceremony

The profound meaning of this Treaty – concluded Draghi – is that our sovereignty, our ability to give the future the direction we choose, can only be strengthened through a shared management of common challenges.” 

President Emmanuel Macron explained that the Quirinale Treaty “enshrines the profound friendship that connects us” and strengthens the “common geopolitical vision” that the two countries share: “this close friendship requires us discipline, requires our countries to talk with each other and to act together“. 

The Quirinale Treaty aims to strengthen bilateral cooperation in several areas of particular importance for both countries: European and international affairs- with particular attention to the Mediterranean and Africa – security, defence, industry, space, the ecological and digital transition, macroeconomics, culture and youth. Overall, the Treaty is geared towards boosting a “united and sovereign” Europe, with a particular focus on European strategic autonomy

Italiy and France: the press conference after the signing of the Quirinale Treaty

As Italian journalist Francesco Maselli explains in his newsletter Marat, dedicated to French politics, “the Treaty includes 12 very dense chapters, and it is accompanied by a 19-page work plan explaining how the two states intend to put into practice the agreement”. The Quirinale Treaty is loosely modeled on the Elysée Treaty that France and Germany signed in 1963 and then renewed in 2019 in Aachen. .  

The Treaty establishes several consultation mechanisms. Meetings will be held on a regular basis both at political level and between senior officials, with the aim of strengthening the exchange of information, reaching common positions before European Council summits of leaders or other EU meetings, and above all developing greater mutual understanding, a necessary step to avoid the misunderstandings of the past. As Francesco Maselli explains, Italy and France take it for granted that they understand each other, “but in reality, this is not the case. The challenge is to try to understand more one another, in order to have a stronger say in Europe and in the world”.  

The Treaty establishes that at least once every three months, a French minister will part in an Italian cabinet meeting, and vice versa. This is something that France and Germany have always been doing and which has certainly played a role in the ability of the two countries to move in a coordinated way on important international issues. Also, the entire governments will meet for an intergovernmental summit once a year. 

Italy and France: Draghi, Macron and Mattarella at the Quirinale

The Quirinale Treaty also provides for greater coordination on defence and industry, with particular attention to the aerospace sector; a joint training mechanism for diplomatic corps; the creation of a joint civil servicecross-border police cooperation; coordination mechanisms on migration, environment, education and justice

In conclusion, the Quirinale Treaty marks an important strengthening of bilateral relations, at a time of great political change in Europe. Italy sees its role as a crucial interlocutor for the future of the European Union recognized: an important opportunity to learn how to matter more at the European level.