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Macron and Draghi plot behind EU’s back to form new power alliance as Merkel distracted

3 min read

Merkel departure would have ‘major impact’ on EU says Butikofer

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The two EU leaders are preparing to sign a new bilateral treaty of the likes of the Franco-German Elysée Treaty. The agreement will seek to reinforce cross-border cooperation between Paris and Rome.

The pact was originally negotiated by former Italian Prime Minister, now European Commissioner for Economy, Paolo Gentiloni.

It is expected to “shift” the balance of power in the EU, according to Macron’s MP Christophe Di Pompeo.

He told Politico: “For me, it is not so much the content that is important, but the vector.

“As soon as we have an agreement between France and Italy, whatever the content, we change the European balance of relations.”

The deal, dubbed “Quirinale Treaty”, is set to raise some eyebrows in Europe, with northern EU countries expected to create some obstacles to the alliance.

Both Emmanuel Macron and Mario Draghi have expressed the will to reform the bloc’s fiscal rules and make some of the economic measures introduced to fight the coronavirus crisis permanent.

The two leaders aim to put pressure on the rest of the EU in a very short amount of time before the French President faces general elections next year and whilst Angela Merkel and Germany are still preoccupied with their polls.

Vincenzo Amendola, Italy’s minister for European affairs, told Politico: “There has been a decisive relaunch of transalpine relations between Italy and France.

“With France we have many points of convergence on social, economic and budgetary issues as well as on ecological and digital transitions.”

With the UK out of the bloc and Germany awaiting to find out who will replace Ms Merkel after 16 years in power, frugal member states will be left fighting on their own against the new power grab couple.

Grégory Claeys, an economist at the Bruegel think tank in Brussels, said: “The two countries share this idea that the fiscal framework is too constraining.

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“Draghi and Macron have the same kind of approach” on this issue and “share the same diagnostic about the problems of the fiscal framework.”

The reform of the Stability and Growth Pact is under the supervision of Mr Gentiloni, the very same man who pushed for a Franco-Italian alliance in the first place.

Mr Di Pompeo believes the alliance could make the EU “more social and more Latin” and put into question the “German economic model”.

He added: “What’s important is to create a vector showing that today there’s a counter-power to Germany.”

Marc Lazar, professor of political history and sociology at Sciences Po Paris, argued that “for French diplomats, Germany is always the priority”.

But he added: “But in moments of crisis it [France] remembers that it has a very beautiful lover, Italy.”

The professor claimed that the Franco-Italian affair could turn into something permanent — “a three-way relationship with a priority axis with Germany and a more regular dialogue with Italy.”

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