The Chancellor pointed to the excellent bilateral relations between the two countries, making special mention of their intensive cooperation on digitalisation and specifically ‘industry 4.0’ (the digitalisation of traditional industry).
Looking to the excellent bilateral economic relations between Italy and Germany, Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni reported that last year saw a new record in terms of bilateral trade.
Angela Merkel praised the huge efforts made by the Italian government to address the challenges posed by migration. Italy’s actions to address the Mediterranean route have been remarkable, she said.
Close cooperation on migration
Within the European framework, the management and steering of migratory flows have been improved thanks to the European mission, training provided for Libya’s coastguard, support for Libya’s government of national accord, and close cooperation with African states.
"Thanks to the cooperation between Germany, Italy and France, an exceptional cooperation with the European Commission has also developed here, within the scope of which we are taking precise steps that are having an impact," said Angela Merkel.
The common goal is still to address the root causes of displacement, give people a chance of a better life in their own countries, and put an end to the business model of smugglers and human traffickers.
Focus on the major European challenges
With a view to the United Kingdom’s departure from the EU, the Chancellor pointed to the next medium-term financial framework.
She stressed that for Germany and Italy, which are both net contributors, it is particularly important for European spending to be concentrated on the major European challenges. "That means migration, but also special defence efforts, research and innovation," said Angela Merkel.
Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni explained that the EU had successfully mastered the major crisis last year and must now focus on European resources, including public goods like security, defence, investment and a better labour market policy.
Last year, he continued, Europe proved that nationalism and populism play no part. With a view to the current international situation it is now important to create economic recovery and breathe new life into Europe. Economic strength, he said, is inseparable from democracy and the European model of society.
Consolidating Europe’s strengths
Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni was also in Berlin on 7 February. He spoke at the Humboldt University as part of a series of talks on Europe. His address was entitled "Italy and Germany – working together for a stronger Europe". He stressed the need to consolidate Europe’s strengths. He said Italy must move forward with Germany and France as a driver and good example, in order to push forward with modernisation and the necessary reforms.
Paolo Gentiloni is a member of Italy’s Democratic Party (PD), and has been the country’s Prime Minister since December 2016. He served as minister of foreign affairs under Prime Minister Matteo Renzi from November 2014 until his appointment as Prime Minister. He will not be standing at Italy’s next parliamentary elections on 4 March.