The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Luigi Di Maio, and the French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, met on the sidelines of the MED Dialogues, when they both participated in the first session of the panel “Heal and Rebuild: A Positive Agenda for the EU in the Enlarged Mediterranean”.
The cordial meeting provided an opportunity to take stock of the follow-up to the Naples Summit in February. In this regard, the two Ministers welcomed the faster pace of bilateral relations following the Summit, despite the obstacles posed by the pandemic, and confirmed their mutual commitment to developing close consultation and collaboration in all areas of common interest, notably with a view toward a treaty on increased bilateral cooperation.
Against this backdrop, the Ministers agreed to prioritise coordination of the key issues on the European agenda, with a special focus on the fight against the pandemic, the Multiannual Financial Framework and the Next Generation EU instrument. The two Ministers also agreed on the need to swiftly adopt the European recovery plan – approved, last July, also thanks to the decisive contribution by the two countries – while calling on all EU Member States to adopt a responsible attitude, particularly in the face of the serious economic and health situation across Europe.
The two Ministers also addressed other priority issues for Europe, such as Covid coordination, security in the Schengen area, the new Pact on Migration and Asylum, reviving the Southern Neighbourhood Policy and the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean. With respect to the last point, the Ministers stressed the need to defend EU interests and the sovereign rights of its Member States, and their willingness to expand cooperation with Turkey, a strategic stakeholder and NATO member, in all areas of common interest, insofar as that country’s attitude allows for it. In all these areas, the two Ministers agreed that Italy and France will have to work together to ensure converging views at the European level.
Lastly, there was an exchange of views on the latest developments in Libya, with the identification of shared priorities in support of the intra-Libyan dialogue process under the auspices of the UN, especially within the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum and the implementation of the 23 October ceasefire agreement. The Ministers reiterated the wishes expressed in the joint declaration of 23 November, at the close of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum meeting in Tunis and reiterated their call to all Libyan and international parties to support the dialogue process and to refrain from any interference.
Both parties stressed the need for an ongoing relationship through regular contacts, on bilateral, European and international issues of mutual interest.