Emmanuel Macron and Mario Draghi join forces for EU strength as Angela Merkel exists

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Gypsy: The leaders of Italy and France will on Friday sign a treaty to strengthen bilateral ties at a time when European diplomacy is being tested by German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s resignation.

The Quirinale Treaty aims to strengthen cooperation between Paris and Rome in areas such as defense, migration, economics, culture and trade.

French President Emmanuel Macron, left, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi in Rome on Thursday.

French President Emmanuel Macron, left, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi in Rome on Thursday.Credit:AP

The signing ceremony comes shortly after one a new coalition pact was agreed in Germany, which ended 16 years of rule by Merkel, who was Europe’s undisputed leader and forged particularly close ties with successive French leaders.

The new German government is expected to be more inward-looking, especially at the beginning of its mandate, and both Paris and Rome are keen to deepen relations in a period clouded by economic uncertainty, the pandemic, a more independent Russia, a growing China and a more uninvolved USA.

“Macron’s intention is to create a new axis with Italy, while it is in Italy’s interest to join the France-Germany duo,” said a senior Italian diplomatic source, who declined to be named.

Originally planned for 2017, negotiations on the new treaty stopped in 2018 when a populist government took office in Rome and clashed with Macron over immigration.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is sitting across the table when French President Emmanuel Macron chats with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the G20 in Rome last month.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is sitting across the table when French President Emmanuel Macron chats with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the G20 in Rome last month. Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Relations reached a low level in 2019 when Macron briefly recalled the French ambassador to Italy, but there has been a renaissance this year following the appointment of former European Central Bank Governor Mario Draghi to lead the Italian unity government.

A French diplomatic source rejected proposals that the new axis between the European Union’s second and third largest economies represented a shift in Paris’ diplomatic priorities.

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