A pipeline across the Alps, a faster pace for innovations and support for medium-sized enterprises: Germany and Italy were linked by “trusting cooperation and a close, long-standing friendship between the citizens of our two countries,” said Federal Chancellor Scholz during a joint press conference with Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. A plan of action was also signed as part of the German-Italian intergovernmental consultations, aiming to promote strategic collaboration both on a bilateral basis and on a European level.
Working together: In addition to the Federal Chancellor, the Federal Government was represented by Minister of Economic Affairs Habeck, Finance Minister Lindner, Foreign Minister Baerbock, Defence Minister Pistorius, Interior Minister Faeser, Minister of Labour Heil, Minister of Education Stark-Watzinger and the Head of the Federal Chancellery Schmidt, who all met with their Italian counterparts.
Joint participation in the G20 video conference
Before the consultations, Scholz and Meloni had jointly attended the G20 video conference of heads of state and government from the Chancellery. The conference was chaired by India’s Prime Minister Modi. The Federal Chancellor expressed his appreciation of India’s efforts during its G20 Presidency this year, saying that India had led the G20 to a number of good resolutions in an extremely difficult global political situation. Brazil will take over the Presidency in 2024.
It was now time to put these resolutions into practice, the Federal Chancellor said, adding that this explicitly included standing up for a just and lasting peace in Ukraine based on the principles that are laid down in the UN Charter.
Appeal to Putin: the war must end
The Federal Chancellor also mentioned the fact that Russia’s President Putin had attended the G20 video conference for the first time since the start of the offensive against Ukraine. “In my statement I called on President Putin to stop his attack on Ukraine and to withdraw the troops from Ukrainian territory, so that this war can end at long last,” Scholz said.
The Russian offensive against Ukraine was also discussed during the intergovernmental consultations. “One thing is clear: we will support Ukraine for as long as necessary,” Scholz stressed.
German-Italian cooperation is to be intensified
Federal Chancellor Scholz then went on to speak about the German-Italian plan of action signed by the two countries as part of the intergovernmental consultations. The purpose of the plan was to provide structure for the countries’ cooperation, focussing on five areas of particular interest, Scholz explained:
- Technology, competition and social cohesion
- Climate protection
- Global partnerships
- Societal and cultural relations between the two countries
The action plan would not only facilitate new cooperation projects, but also allow for new formats for deepening German-Italian collaboration in the future, Scholz explained.
Aiming for long-term supply security
The Federal Chancellor mentioned the areas of business, technology and innovation as well as security and defence as a particular focus of the consultations. Both sides had agreed to expand cooperation in the field of energy, in order to strengthen long-term supply security and to promote transformation.
“Further development of the south corridor for gas and hydrogen is particularly important here. We plan to increase supply security for our two countries by building a new pipeline across the Alps,” Scholz said. He added that there were also plans to conclude a German-Italian gas solidarity agreement in a timely manner.
In the afternoon, Federal Chancellor Scholz and Prime Minister Meloni had also attended the Business Forum BDI Confindustria Leader’s Dialogue in Berlin. Representatives of business and associations from both countries were involved in this dialogue. The issues discussed included support for medium-sized enterprises, acceleration of approval procedures and facilitating innovation in particular in the area of artificial intelligence.
Middle East: the release of hostages is good news
Another topic on the agenda was the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel and the current situation in Gaza. The Federal Chancellor referred to the agreement to release some hostages as “good news” and thanked all governments involved. It was now essential to put the agreements into practice “for which we will provide diplomatic support,” Scholz said.
“One thing remains clear for us: Israel has the right and the duty to defend itself within the framework of international humanitarian law,” the Federal Chancellor pointed out. Humanitarian ceasefires and the protection of civilians were very important in this context, Scholz said, adding that: “we agree that humanitarian care for the people in Gaza must be improved considerably”. The Federal Chancellor stressed that Germany and Italy were both committed to promoting a two-state solution that would enable Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace.
EU: reforms to ensure sustainability
The enlargement of the European Union could only be a success if it left the EU stronger than before, the Federal Chancellor highlighted, adding that reforms were therefore needed not only in the countries that wish to join but also in the EU itself.
Following the recent European Council meeting in Granada, it was important that all member states got involved and contributed their ideas for the EU’s future, Scholz pointed out.
The Federal Chancellor reported that they had also discussed the issue of migration and that “we agree that it is essential to conclude the CEAS (Common European Asylum System) reform and that we need a partnership-based approach that involves countries of origin and transit”.
Meloni: “a historic day”
Prime Minister Meloni said in the press conference that the plan of action agreed by the two countries would further reinforce bilateral relations between Germany and Italy. The leader of the Italian government spoke of “a historic day” and pointed out that Germany and Italy as two of the big EU countries were also sending an excellent message to all of Europe.
What are intergovernmental consultations? Intergovernmental consultations are meetings of the governments of two states. Considerable efforts go into their preparation, and their goal is a mutual exchange of information and to discuss future political plans in order to deepen bilateral cooperation. In addition to the leaders of the governments of the countries involved, these meetings are also attended by further high-ranking members of the government cabinets (minister and secretary of state level).