ROME – French President Emmanuel Macron met with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni in Rome on Thursday in a bid to make progress towards a bilateral pact that would strengthen ties and boost mutual efforts to add fresh impetus to the European Union.
Macron and Gentiloni were preparing what has been dubbed the Treat of Quirinal, named after the Italian presidential headquarters, a deal that is to be modeled on the Elysee Treaty signed by France and Germany in 1963, ending decades of rivalry and contributing to their modern-day positions at the heart of the EU.
“We have always cooperated in an extraordinary way, but we are convinced that (the treaty) will further strengthen our relations,” Gentiloni told reporters after meeting with Macron at the Palazzo Chigi, the prime minister’s official residence in Rome.
Macron said the agreement would mark a rapprochement between the countries in a cultural, linguistic, educational and, most of all, economic ambit – some 80 billion euros ($96 billion) are exchanged between the nations every year.
“It’s about cultural links, a special and specific friendship. It does not compete with and nor is it inferior to the Franco-German links,” Macron added.
The French head of state said that, after 10 years of economic crisis, the year 2018 represented a fresh opportunity to take important decisions that would contribute to a renewed European Union.
“We must prepare the re-foundation for the coming decade; if there have been hesitations in the past, it was because we lacked a long-term perspective. Our common goal is to rebuild Europe, to make it more democratic and sovereign,” Macron said in an event that sought to bring Italy into the fold of that development.
When asked about how to deal with the rise of populism across Europe, Macron said the bloc must endeavor to become more united and more democratic.