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Thirty-second Franco-Italian summit

Published on February 26, 2015
Statements by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, at his joint press conference with Mr Matteo Renzi, Prime Minister of Italy

Paris, February 24, 2015

The 32nd Franco-Italian summit was held today, but it was the first with Matteo Renzi. And we discussed a lot of subjects: firstly international subjects and then bilateral subjects.


On the international situation, we talked first of all about Ukraine, because at the very moment we were meeting, a summit, as it were, was under way in the Normandy format, with the four foreign ministers – Russian, Ukrainian, French and German – and the position adopted was one of respect for the ceasefire agreement and the Minsk agreement in its entirety. And Matteo Renzi and I confirmed this demand for a ceasefire and all the stages provided for in the Minsk agreement, with no concessions and no delays.


We then talked about – and it’s a shared concern – the situation in Libya and what initiatives we can take. France supports all Italy’s efforts to ensure that at the highest level, i.e. the United Nations, we can find responses to a situation which is one of chaos and therefore terrorism. The first requirement, there again, is to reach a political agreement between the different factions and ensure there can be a government, a parliament, a central bank, and one alone, if that’s possible, at each level.

We then rightly discussed our potential fears in relation to trafficking, which is on the increase: human trafficking, the transportation of human beings, which ultimately means whole families can risk disappearing at sea or – if those families reach our coasts, i.e. the Italian coasts in particular – being in a very difficult humanitarian situation.

A link was made by our interior ministers between trafficking and terrorism. It’s often terrorist groups that carry out trafficking, and trafficking that financially maintains terrorist groups. So, on this, we asked Europe to considerably strengthen the so-called Operation Triton, which consists quite simply of [maritime] border surveillance and action which is as effective as possible in relation to those population movements. More will have to be done, and we raised the idea of reaching a development agreement with Libya’s neighbours, so that responses can be given to those people who feel they are in danger and insecure if they stay in their own country.


Next we discussed bilateral issues, and I’m going to emphasize one of them. In 2001, i.e. 14 years ago, an agreement was reached for a railway line to be launched from Lyon to Turin and for work to be started. We’ve had to wait until today to be able finally to make that agreement a reality and begin a twofold operation. The first part is to secure the legal decisions enabling the work to be started – it will get under way from 2016 onwards –, and the second is to go and find funding for work that will amount to €3 billion, and we can expect 40% of the funding from the European Union. We can now say that the Lyon-Turin line has been not only endorsed but launched. Its construction will still take time, but today there are no more blocks, no more obstacles to making this project a reality.


We then discussed, with business leaders from our two countries, the economic situation and what we can do in terms of support for investment. We made the same observation: the recovery is here. It’s still too hesitant. Growth is picking up again – not strongly enough to reduce unemployment, although, in our countries, we see signals that are starting to be more optimistic or more confident regarding the future. But we must nurture, support and extend this process further. And that’s why business leaders, who represent the whole range of what can be done better in our respective countries, set to work in a bilateral group and made us several proposals.
The first of those proposals was to present a joint – therefore Franco-Italian – investment programme in order to be eligible for the Juncker Plan. The second proposal was to harmonize our rules in order to be – particularly in the energy market but not only in the energy market – the most capable of attracting investment from abroad, and also to develop our own investment from domestic capital in our two countries. Finally, a third proposal was to create venture capital funds so that our SMEs, our most innovative businesses, can be financed, including in the framework of the resources to be released under the Juncker Plan.

It’s very important for us to be able to show that France and Italy have a shared determination. A desire for growth is what we – Matteo Renzi and I – have been promoting together at European Council meetings. We’re increasingly being listened to. A desire for investment, too: that’s what we’ve sought with the Juncker Plan. And a desire for reforms, structural reforms: they exist in Italy and we welcome that, they exist in France, we want them and we’re implementing them and will continue to do so. And it’s because we have that desire for growth and reforms that we can set our own pace for reducing public deficits, even though this drive is under way and won’t be questioned.


We also discussed – and I’ll end on this – two major events that are going to take place in 2015: Expo 2015 in Milan, which will be a great opportunity for Italy but also for Europe to talk about sustainable development and therefore also begin to talk about the Climate Conference. And the second event is the one in Paris, the Climate Conference, which will have to be prepared, and a number of meetings will be held in France and Italy to achieve that. So you’re seeing us today; you’ll see us again tomorrow. (…)./.

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