Rome and Paris talk specifics. On Tuesday, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni had a “cordial telephone conversation” with French President Emmanuel Macron, according to the official readout, which notes the two “discussed the main issues at the centre of the European and international agenda.”
- Monsieur Macron was the first world leader to meet with Ms Meloni, albeit informally, shortly after her formal appointment in October. As they did back then, the two agreed to maintain discussion channels open.
- In the background is the Quirinal Treaty, a bilateral cooperation agreement signed in late 2021 that strengthened the political and economic cooperation between Italy and France across the board.
Supporting Kyiv. During the phone call, the two leaders reiterated their will to ensure “full support for Ukraine,” which – as Defence Minister Guido Crosetto told Decode39 – is military as well as civilian and humanitarian in nature.
- Rome is working to understand whether it can provide Kyiv with air defence systems, such as the SAMP/T, which requires the sourcing of French components. Recently, Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani confirmed Italy was “working intensively with the French” to ensure their speedy delivery.
By the way: Decode39 was able to preview Tuesday night’s conversation between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Italian journalist Bruno Vespa, where the former confirmed he was “very much looking forward” to PM Meloni’s upcoming trip to Kyiv – which we revealed last week. “I cannot announce the date,” he said, “but [she will come] soon.”
- President Zelensky then went on to describe the Italian leader as “an extremely concrete prime minister” and note that her rhetoric vis-à-vis Ukraine “was absolutely clear to me,” despite doubts regarding her coalition’s support of the Ukrainian’s plight.
- “There were those who spread information that this government would be more pro-Russian. Instead, nowadays, I see Giorgia as pro-Italian, and this is the most important thing: she is pro-Italian and supports Ukraine. And she supports common values. That is how it is today,” he noted.
Back to Meloni and Macron. According to the readout, Italian and French leaders also stressed “the urgency of finding effective solutions at the European level to support the competitiveness of European businesses and to combat illegal immigration through effective control of the EU’s external borders.”
- Their mention of competitiveness reflects Rome and Paris’ coordination over the European response to the United States’ massive subsidies for cleantech. Both have long been pushing on Brussels to relax the bloc’s limits on State aid.
- On Tuesday morning, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen signalled the EU would water down State aid regulations – a first step towards countering and matching the US’ Inflation Reduction Act.
- Finally, the two leaders touched upon the contentious issue of migration – over which they quarrelled in November. Paris’ commitment to cooperation goes some way towards Rome’s long-unheard requests for an increased European presence on the Southern border.