France and Italy want "new page in Europe’s future"

Italy – Bilateral relations – Visit by Mr Paolo Gentiloni, Prime Minister of Italy – Statement by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic (excerpts)

Paris, 10 January 2017

Ladies and gentlemen,

It was a great pleasure for me to welcome Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. It’s his first official visit to France, as part of a series of European visits he’s going to be making over the coming days, and I thank him very much indeed for coming to Paris first. It’s a sign of the excellent friendship and relationship between France and Italy. I don’t need to go back over it; it’s based on culture, politics but also the economy.

I remind you that France is the leading investor in Italy, its second-largest trading partner, and we’ve had joint projects for a long time – the most outstanding, most symbolic but also most significant in terms of work being the Lyon-Turin [high-speed railway line]. Indeed, at the end of the month France is going to ratify the international agreement enabling us to carry out this major project, which our diplomatic services, our governments and our businesses have been actively working on for years. We’re now at the point where we can take clear steps in turning this infrastructure into reality.

We also share a number of industrial projects, and we discussed them. We’re determined to ensure that French businesses and Italian businesses can be, together – sometimes separately – champions at European and global level. Whenever we can find partnerships, we absolutely must grasp them, in every field.

It’s true that there are – in the electronics field, in the field of new technology – further opportunities to take action together. In France there’s the issue of the future of STX [shipbuilding company], with a possible stake for Fincantieri. For us, it is indeed a very serious possibility. We’re working towards this, but with a determination for the government to remain not only a minority shareholder but a shareholder that can have blocking rights, and we’d like there to be a solution with multiple shareholders.

We also want us to make progress on Europe. In March, Italy is going to host all the European countries to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome. We can make it a mere mention, a page in history, or we can write a new chapter in the European enterprise. The choice that we, Italy and France, have made – although I’m sure it will be shared, and particularly with Germany – is to ensure that this Rome meeting can, from the European perspective, clearly show the direction we want to take.

First of all, security: border security, so that we can, particularly on the migration issue, not only be human and decent – particularly in making sure the right of asylum is respected – but also ensure we can deport those migrants who aren’t eligible to enter and remain on European soil. This means having – and we’ve already completed this – coastguards, border guards and checking systems, and this is part of Europe’s long-term commitments, and it goes together, incidentally, with a development policy, particularly to support Africa, and innovative policies in terms of cooperation. That’s the first dimension.

I’ll add a second dimension, namely defence. We’re facing an uncertain, dangerous world. There’s a terrorist threat which has struck several European countries, [including] France and recently Germany, and so we must ensure European defence and coordinate our intelligence services even more than we have, and in a general way ensure we increase and improve our defence capabilities. This is a key challenge, and I think that on the 60th anniversary we’ll be able to further this second goal of the European enterprise.

Finally, the third dimension is growth and employment, developing new technologies, the ability to develop our industries and ensure that young people have a future through training, through excellent universities and research. That’s what we want to promote on the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome: a new page in Europe’s future. (…)./.

Published on 31/01/2017

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