Ready, set, aller. After being sworn in on Saturday and completing the handover ceremony with Mario Draghi on Sunday, Giorgia Meloni hit the ground running by meeting informally with Emmanuel Macron for over an hour.
- The two had a “cordial and fruitful discussion” and touched upon all the key European dossiers – energy bills, supporting Ukraine, the economic outlook and the management of migratory flows – according to a readout from PM Meloni’s office.
- The two “agreed on the will to continue working together on the major common challenges at the European level and respecting mutual national interests.”
Bridge-building. The French President had already planned to be in Rome, as we reported, to partake in an influential event at La Nuvola and have lunch with his Italian counterpart, Sergio Mattarella. His willingness to immediately meet with Italy’s new PM resonates with the ongoing strengthening of ties between the two countries, as cemented in the Quirinal Treaty.
- “As Europeans, as neighbouring countries, as friendly peoples, we must continue all the work we have started with Italy,” tweeted Mr Macron. “To succeed together, with dialogue and ambition, we owe it to our young and our peoples. Our first meeting in Rome [went] in this direction.”
- The newly-appointed Foreign Minister, Antonio Tajani, met with his French counterpart, Catherine Colonna.
- The neo-Interior Minister, Matteo Piantedosi, began talking about migration with his French homologue, Gerald Darmanin.
Realpolitik acknowledgement. “The Macron-Meloni meeting is the first foreign policy act of the new government,” tweeted Lia Quartapelle, who oversees foreign relations within the Democratic Party, now at the opposition. “It belies [Brothers of Italy’s] vote against the Quirinal Treaty in July. It may be a problem for [Ms] Meloni to be inconsistent, but it is good for Italy when reality overcomes ideology.”
Reaching out to Europe… As soon as she was sworn in, PM Meloni spoke with Ursula Von der Leyen and the heads of the European institutions – with whom, as she stressed, the new centre-right government is “ready to collaborate” on the energy crisis, the war in Ukraine, the implementation of Italy’s Eu-funded National Recovery Plan and cohesion policies, and Ms Meloni’s forthcoming trip to Brussels.
- She is expected to make her debut at the European Council on December 15-16. That’s where the EU will see whether she’ll align with the France-Germany duo or with her Polish and Hungarian allies, as the Council will vote on whether to suspend EU funds to the latters over the rule-of-law tussle and their reform effort.
… and Kyiv. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky congratulated PM Meloni on Saturday; she responded by reiterating that Italy would continue standing by the Ukrainians as they fight for their freedom and “rightful peace.”
- As the newly-appointed Foreign Minister, Antonio Tajani’s first act was to call his Ukrainian homologue, Dmytro Kuleba. “I confirmed Italy’s support for Ukraine in defence of freedom and against the Russian invasion,” he tweeted, while the Ukrainian FM later said that call was “a clear signal of the new government’s priorities.”
- The government’s position on sending arms to Ukraine, stressed the new Defence Minister Crosetto, “is the one expressed many times by President Meloni: when you are part of a family and have signed an agreement, then you accept the decisions that that group makes. The decisions made within the framework of our historic international alliances will be respected by Italy. There is no division on this,” he told Repubblica.
Word on the street, according to the same outlet, is that Francesco Maria Talò will become PM Meloni’s new diplomatic advisor. He is currently Italy’s Permanent Representative at NATO.
- Previously, he worked as Cybersecurity Coordinator at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Coordinator of the OSCE Conference on Combating Anti-Semitism; Italian Ambassador to Israel; Special Envoy of the MFA for Afghanistan and Pakistan; and Consul-General in New York.