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The New Franco-Italian Alliance in Europe

Behind a new bilateral cooperation agreement between France and Italy is a burgeoning political alliance that could reshape the European Union and its global role. With German Chancellor Angela Merkel departing, all eyes are now on Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and French President Emmanuel Macron.

STANFORD – Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and French President Emmanuel Macron are on track to sign a bilateral accord – the so-called Quirinale Treaty named after the Roman palace – designed to boost their countries’ industrial and strategic cooperation. But this new Paris-Rome power axis may do much more than that as it may very well alter the leadership dynamic within the entire European Union.

This emerging Draghi/Macron alliance may seem like an odd pairing, because some French look down their noses at Italians. I personally witnessed quite a lot of this when I lived in Aix-en-Provence, a place where French and Italian culture often compete and clash. But judging the Italians harshly for their politics is much harder to do now that the supremely competent and experienced Draghi is in charge.

A mere ten months after taking office, Draghi has emerged as one of Europe’s most highly regarded and influential politicians. Just before last month’s G20 summit in Rome, he held a private meeting with US President Joe Biden – a tête-à-tête that testifies to his elevated standing in the transatlantic alliance. According to the New York Times, Biden made clear that “Italy and the United States needed to show that democracies can function successfully and that Mr. Draghi was doing that.”