Germany and Italy want to deepen their cooperation with the help of a joint “action plan”.

This was announced by Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi during the Chancellor's inaugural visit to the Italian capital.

In doing so, they confirmed a corresponding report by the FAZ. The form and the precise content of this plan have not yet been determined.

"We have only just begun our journey together," said Draghi.

“It is our firm intention to work even more closely together,” emphasized Scholz at a joint press conference at the Italian seat of government in Rome.

The aim is to intensify coordination in various policy areas and to hold regular government consultations.

Christian Schubert

Economic correspondent for Italy and Greece.

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The plan is also seen as a reaction to the Franco-Italian friendship treaty that Rome and Paris signed in late November.

According to diplomatic circles, the German-Italian agreement could be a supplement to this treaty, which could create an effective triangular relationship.

However, according to the current state of affairs, there are no plans to give the action plan the same status as the Italian-French government treaty.

Italy's vaccination rate as a model

Prior to these medium to long-term considerations, there are also urgent current tasks - especially the fight against pandemics. The two heads of government have shown unity on this point. Scholz had a lot of praise for the Italian strategy in the fight against Corona. "Italy has achieved a very exemplary vaccination quota", which is "an incentive" for Germany. "We also vaccinated many citizens, but not as many as we would like," added the Chancellor. New consultations with the prime ministers would take place this Tuesday. It is about fighting the pandemic “together”. Tensions such as those that arose last year when the borders were temporarily closed and Germany temporarily stopped the export of medical aid should be avoided. Draghi emphasizedhow important the third vaccination dose is now for the citizens.

The Italian Prime Minister also underlined the great need for funds for the challenges ahead. Europe in particular must prepare itself to cope with climate change, digitization and the ecological transition. Europe must also strengthen itself in the field of defense without competing with NATO, stressed Draghi. Scholz agreed on all of these points. However, the heads of government diverged on one important question: Draghi wants to reform the European Stability and Growth Pact in such a way that it gives the individual states more freedom to finance their investments.

In plain language, this means that the three percent limit for new borrowing should fall.

It is already not being respected by many euro countries, which has not resulted in any sanctions so far.

But countries like Italy and France want fewer discussions about national deficits in the future.

Federal Chancellor Scholz, on the other hand, emphasized that the Stability and Growth Pact already allows for "sufficient flexibility".

“With the European reconstruction fund, we have shown what we can do in Europe.” Even before the money flowed, the financial markets had more confidence in the European states.

"We have shown flexibility, we can act on this basis," said Scholz.

Use Draghi as an opportunity?

With his visit to Rome, the Federal Chancellor certainly also tried to show that Italy is an important partner for Germany. The Italians are obviously not always aware of this. A few days ago the renowned Italian Institute for Studies in International Politics (Ispi) published a survey that made people sit up and take notice. According to this, 48 ​​percent of Italians now see France as their most important ally in Europe. Last year this proportion was only 18 percent. Germany, on the other hand, has lost importance in the eyes of the Italians. The proportion that Germans consider their most important European partners has shrunk from 50 to 35 percent within a year. The joy of the German approval of the European Reconstruction Fund, from which Italy benefited last year,evidently flew quickly again. "This year it is possible that the signing of the Quirinal Treaty supports the good opinion of the Italians of France," write the Ispi analysts.

But now there is a will to raise German-Italian relations to a new level. The federal government wants to use the opportunity that Draghi offers as Italy's prime minister. It has ensured considerable stability, initiated important reforms, and raised Italy's reputation in the world. Of course, it is unclear whether Draghi wants to continue as head of government and thus rule until 2023 at the latest, if his broad governing coalition lasts that long. Or whether he wants to run for the office of President - an office that is far from having the full power of a French President, but more powers than the German President, because he can refuse the appointment of ministers, for example. Draghi might be temptedto exchange the shaky post of prime minister for the fatherly role of the state president, which is highly regarded in Italy