Madrid and Rome revive bilateral ties to address European challenges

Rajoy insisted that, in order to start a dialogue, Catalonia should return to the Constitutional order. [Kiko Jimenez/Shutterstock]

The prime ministers of Spain and Italy, Mariano Rajoy and Paolo Gentiloni, met on Friday (27 January) for the first time in four years, in a bid to bring fresh impetus to high-level cooperation between the two countries. EURACTIV Spain reports.

Gentiloni replaced Matteo Renzi at the head of the Italian government last December after the former premier lost a referendum on wide-ranging constitutional reforms. He met his Spanish counterpart at Madrid’s Moncloa Palace on Friday afternoon.

Renzi resigns, Italian president to consult with parties

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigned yesterday (7 December) after a bruising referendum loss at the weekend, with most parliamentary factions pushing for an early election in a few months’ time.

Renzi had been in office since February 2014, but during his tenure he did not hold any bilateral meetings with Rajoy in Spain or Italy.

The last time a head of the Italian government visited Spain was in May 2013, when then-prime minister Enrico Letta met with Rajoy at the Moncloa Palace.

So for the Spanish government, Gentiloni’s visit was an important step towards reviving high-level bilateral relations. Between two countries with such strong historical, cultural, social, economic and investment ties, this is a good sign.

Madrid believes that the two countries’ respective domestic situations held them back from taking full advantage of these ties in recent years. This bulk of Friday’s discussions centred on this issue.

The two heads of government also discussed the Malta summit on 3 February, to be attended by all EU leaders except the UK’s Theresa May, to discuss the bloc’s future after Brexit.

They also exchanged views on the EU summit in Rome this coming March to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of the treaty establishing the European Economic Community.

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