Italy and France have signed the Quirinal Treaty, which raises their bilateral relations to an unprecedented degree.
The document was signed this morning in Rome by Prime Minister Mario Draghi and by the President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron, in the presence of the Italian Head of State Sergio Mattarella.
The agreement was proposed four years ago by the tenant of the Elysée, only to immediately run into the crisis of relations between Italy and France at the time of the first Conte government (2018), to recover with Count II Cabinet (2019) and find its sublimation in the advent of the executive of national unity led by Mario Draghi (2021).
The pact is a sort of imitation of the agreement formalized by France and Germany in 1963 (Elysée Treaty) and updated in 2019 (Aachen Treaty) which substantiates the geopolitical core of the European continent. In the case of the Italian-French agreement, at stake is the possibility of ending more than a century and a half of friction between the two nations, in particular in the African and Mediterranean area, as well as the decades-long French geo-economic offensive on industries and the financial sector of Italy.
In this way, Paris makes explicit the idea that has accompanied her trajectory since 18 January 1871 when Germany was baptized an empire in the Gallery of Mirrors in Versailles: balancing the German influence in the Old Continent by drawing the “Latin sisters” to herself, to start precisely from Italy.
In the eyes of French strategists, our country is the ideal link between France and Africa. Despite the formal abandonment of the colonial empire, in fact, Paris continues to think as being projected via the Mediterranean Sea towards the heart of the African continent. Which is an inexhaustible reservoir of memories, business intertwining and geopolitical influence, as well as mineral resources and space of linguistic influence.
In other words, what is necessary to preserve the world idea it has of herself and to be able to oppose German hegemony in Europe.
By joining in the Quirinal Treaty, Italy and France also signal to their continental partners their intention to perform together with the 2022 negotiation on the interpretation of the Stability Pact. The two nations share the idea of stifling the hypotheses of regression to austerity that are spreading in Berlin and among the Nordic partners (read: satellites) and want to prevent the Federal Republic from translating into geopolitics the sphere of economic influence that already manages.
Draghi and Macron signed the pact following the announcement of an agreement for the new coalition government in Germany, which once in office will officially close Angela Merkel’s 16 years of chancellorship – who has risen to the rank of undisputed leader of the Old Continent and whose departure opens a vacuum of power to be exploited by the leaders of Italy and France.
In this game that already promises to be complex and articulated, Italy will have to move with caution. Germany is the de facto guarantor of our public debt and last year made an epochal turning point by providing its guarantees to the issue of European bonds for the Recovery Fund. Resources of which our country is today the greatest beneficiary and which we hailed as salvific, up to the point of summoning Draghi to Palazzo Chigi to manage their expense.
For this reason our margins for maneuver are small and not even the new agreement with France will be able to ignore the privileged relationship we have with Germany. Rome needs the money guaranteed by Berlin to survive. The French partner will be able to help temper the German monopoly, certainly not to cancel it all at once.
Yet the Quirinal Treaty offers us a unique opportunity to dedicate ourselves to the arduous process of rebuilding the State. Exactly what we need to revive ourselves after the pandemic crisis. Without an efficient, authoritative and adequately centralized public apparatus, for example, it will simply be impossible to survive a planet torn apart by crises of all kinds. Or to deal with direct threats to our interests, such as those represented by Turkey’s control of Libyan Tripolitania and Russia’s control of Cyrenaica.
In this long and painful process, it will be of fundamental help to be able to structure a privileged relationship with a great power like France, which embodies the highest idea of State culture. In the meantime, we will try to forge new compromises with Paris on the numerous dossiers that have so far divided us, starting with the Mediterranean and African ones, to continue with industry and technologies.
The risk of course is to definitively fall into the French sphere of influence, both in foreign policy and in the industrial field. But we have no choice. The alternatives, such as German austerity and Turkish and Russian interference around our coasts, are much worse.