On January 10, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio met with his German counterpart, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, in Rome. The meeting focused on strengthening bilateral cooperation between Italy and Germany and issues related to European and international affairs.
The meeting allowed the two Foreign Ministers to reach an agreement over the roadmap for the adoption of an “action plan” aimed at significantly strengthening bilateral relations. The design of the action plan will be similar to that of the Elysée Treaty, which regulates relations between France and Germany, and it will be based on the model of the Quirinal Treaty, recently signed by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and French President Emmanuel Macron.
The intention to reach a similar agreement had already been expressed in December by Draghi himself and by the newly elected German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, during Scholz’s visit to Palazzo Chigi (the Italian Prime Minister’s residence). The two heads of government said they wanted to transform the dynamics of Italy-Germany relations, establishing several coordination and consultation mechanisms similar to those provided for by the Quirinal Treaty.
The action plan would therefore increase the importance of a Germany-France-Italy triangle within the European Union. Di Maio and Baerbock had already discussed the matter during their first meeting, held during the Liverpool G7 summit in mid-December.
The two Foreign Ministers said they will officially sign the agreement by the first half of 2022. “Minister Baerbock and I have given ourselves a timetable that looks ahead, towards mid-year, to organise the bilateral summit between Italy and Germany and sign the action plan on that occasion” said Mr. Di Maio, adding that “the time is ripe to transform this long friendship into a strategic partnership”. Mr. Di Maio also cited the climate crisis, the pandemic and geopolitical instability as the some of the main issues the collaboration between Italy and Germany will focus on.
According to Baerbock, Germany’s relations with Italy are already “very close, more than with other European countries” and strengthening them will benefit the entire European Union. The German Foreign Minister underlined the importance of the ties between Italy and Germany, in terms of both cultural and economic cooperation, especially in the manufacturing sector. She highlighted the possibility of developing a kind of collaboration “not only between capitals” but also “between citizens” through “town twinning” and mechanisms to include young people in the process. Ms. Baerbock, who is leader of the German Greens, also emphasized the fight against climate change as a key aspect of bilateral relations.
Finally, the two ministers addressed the issue of migration. Di Maio talked about the need to enforce at a European level the principle of solidarity and fair sharing of responsibilities, as well as to strengthen cooperation with the countries of origin or transit of migratory flows.
Baerbock spoke of a “common vision” between Rome and Berlin on the issue of refugees, stressing that a “common European asylum policy” is necessary. “We know it’s a daunting task, but the status quo is not acceptable” she said.
The meeting between the two Foreign Ministers strengthened the path towards a qualitative leap in relations between Italy and Germany. For Italy, becoming officially part of a Paris-Berlin-Rome triangle would represent an important achievement, and Prime Minister Draghi would leave an important mark on the country’s foreign policy.