Italy, France to Cooperate on Health, Space, Microprocessors

Italy and France plan to step up their cooperation on health, aerospace, microprocessor and hydrogen projects, ministers from the two countries’ governments said Friday.

“We’ve succeeded in protecting our economies in Europe in 2020, now we need to succeed in relaunching them,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said at a press conference in Rome with Italian Development Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti. “This is an opportunity to reinforce production chains in Europe and between big industrial nations like Italy and France.”

The neighboring countries have been working closely on a number of projects since Mario Draghi took over as Italy’s prime minister. Draghi and French President Emmanuel Macron coordinated earlier this week on the temporary halt to the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine.

The cooperation marks a change after several years of tense relations and soured deals including the scrapping of a tie-up between Italy’s Fincantieri SpA and France’s Chantiers de l’Atlantique earlier this year.

More Independence

The joint projects are aimed at helping the countries gain more independence in key strategic areas at European level. In the health field, France and Italy plan to cooperate on biotech and other projects to ensure greater autonomy and collaboration.

In space launchers, “the strategic independence of the EU” is at stake, Le Maire said. The two countries will set a common strategy for the Ariane 6 launch system and plan to “write a road map for European launchers.” The countries will also work on a tripartite agreement with Germany before the summer.

In the field of hydrogen, France and Italy plan to work to identify companies that could cooperate more closely, the ministers said. The same is true for electronic components, with the aim of being less dependent on Asia, Le Maire said.

Giorgetti told reporters there is no plan for public participation in automaker Stellantis NV, born out of the combination between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and PSA Group. He also said that Italy will present a plan for cash-strapped airline Alitalia before this summer.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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