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Italy says ready to join coalition of European militaries

20 September 2019, MVT 17:32
(L-R) French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi address a press conference ahead of talks following the Brexit referendum at the chancellery in Berlin, on June 27, 2016. Britain's shock decision to leave the EU forces German Chancellor Angela Merkel into the spotlight to save the bloc, but true to her reputation for prudence, she said she would act neither hastily nor nastily. / AFP PHOTO / John MACDOUGALL
20 September 2019, MVT 17:32

Italy said Thursday it would be joining a coalition of European militaries ready to react to crises near the continent's borders, as the country's new government rekindled ties with the EU.

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

"Italy has officially communicated its readiness 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.

Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain have all signed up to the French-led initiative, which was set up outside the European Union and NATO frameworks, it said.

The idea behind EI2 is to be able to rapidly mount a joint military operation, evacuate civilians, or provide aid after a disaster.

Macron was behind the idea and 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.

Rome, Italy | AFP

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