Europe

Italy ‘willing to join’ European military intervention initiative, government says

Italy’s government said on Thursday, September 19 that it is ready to join a European military coalition to react to crises near the continent’s borders, as the country’s new government rekindled ties with the E.U.

The announcement follows a Wednesday visit to Rome by French President Emmanuel Macron for talks with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte aimed at turning the page on Italy’s previous anti-European Union populist government.

“Italy has officially communicated its willingness to join” the European Intervention Initiative EI2, “providing its particular national expertise in the security sector in the Mediterranean region,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement.

It described the European Intervention Initiative as “an innovative approach to cooperation in defense, inspired by the ideas of “political interoperability” and “strategic anticipation.””

The idea behind EI2 is to develop the capability to rapidly deploy on joint military operations, civilian evacuations, or disaster relief.

Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom have signed up to the French-led initiative, which was formed in June last year and is outside European Union and NATO frameworks.

French Minister for the Armed Forces Florence Parly said at the time that the European Intervention Initiative is “clearly an initiative that allows some non-E.U. states to associate,” noting that the U.K. “wants to maintain cooperation with Europe beyond bilateral ties” after Brexit.

Macron, who was the driver of the idea, has called for a “real European army.”

Historical allies Paris and Rome showed unity this week – particularly on the hot-button issue of migration – after two years of rocky relations.

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With reporting from AFP

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