By Ahmet Gencturk
ANKARA (AA) - Italy and France, the two biggest economies in the EU after Germany, signed an enhanced cooperation treaty Friday.
The Treaty of Quirinale, which was named after the Italian presidential palace in Rome, where the treaty was signed, marks an historic moment in relations between the two countries, said Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi during a news conference that followed the signing.
Expressing his satisfaction with the treaty, Draghi said the economies, societies, arts, and histories of the two countries have long been intertwined.
We want to improve and accelerate the process of European integration, he said, adding that the sovereignty of EU states can only be strengthened through joint governance of common challenges.
He noted, however, that member states must equip themselves with tools that would make them stronger against challenges and the treaty would enable France and Italy to do that.
Draghi detailed that the two countries will establish a joint civil service, a cross-border cooperation committee to tackle irregular migration.
The treaty also provides for the invitation of ministers to Cabinet meetings of the two countries on the model of the Treaty of Aachen between France and Italy.
French President Emmanuel Macron, said: “The treaty enshrines the deep friendship uniting us.”
Remarking that the two countries share a common vision on European and international affairs, he said the treaty would contribute to building a stronger joint European defense mechanism that would bolster NATO.
Macron reiterated that Italy and France will improve bilateral cooperation in the fight against illegal migration and human traffickers and hence protect Europe's external borders.
The treaty was initially announced in 2017 but was frozen after the formation in 2018 of a populist government in Italy led by the 5-Star Movement.
When then-Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio met a leader from the anti-government protesters in France in early 2019, relations between the two countries worsened.
In response, Paris temporarily recalled its ambassador to Italy, the most severe diplomatic crisis between the two countries since 1945.
The comprehensive treaty envisages enhanced cooperation in foreign policy, defense, space policy, digital and environmental transformation, culture and education matters and deepening economic and industrial relations between Italy and France.