Macron's Italy UPRISING: French leader facing major Rome revolt for spurning neighbour

The French president, who has championed further European integration, has made several decisions since gaining office in May which have annoyed his biggest neighbour.

Relations have become so frayed French economy minister Bruno Le Maire travelled to Rome today to meet his Italian counterpart on a damage control mission after Mr Macron decided to nationalise the STX shipyard in western France after the South Korean owner, STX, collapsed last year.

Italian company Fincantieri had been the only bidder and had offered to buy STX’s €79.5million share.

Francois Hollande, Mr Macron’s predecessor, had reached a deal to leave Italy with a majority shareholding, but Mr Le Maire scrapped the deal after insisting on a 50-50 split.

The move is just another example of large French companies acquiring control or majority stakes in their Italian competitors.

On the other hand, Italy has not been able to do the same, with Rome accusing the French of “protectionism”.

Italian officials are angry they have been shafted by the French president over several other issues as well.

Last week Mr Macron attempted to broker a peace deal between Libya’s warring factions by inviting the head of the UN-backed government and the leader of the main armed group to Paris.

Libyan experts said they did not think anything positive would come out of it.

A French foreign policy adviser to Mr Macron said Italy complained – and had “some grounds to” – because it was not consulted despite its colonial past in the country and being one of the main destination countries for refugees over the past few years.

The mood in Italy was illustrated last week by a cartoon in daily newspaper Corriera della Serra, which pictured a football kit clad Mr Macron head butting Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, imitating when French footballer Zinedane Zidane did the same to Italian defender Marco Materazzi in the 2006 football World Cup final.

Italian politicians, including Europhiles, are now speaking out against Mr Macron.

Italian MEP Alessia Mosca, a member of former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party, said: “It’s an industrial and political mistake.

“Using the narrative of national interest is demagogic and populist.

“He should know that it’s European competitiveness that can save France.”

A French diplomat said Mr Macron “is still on a learning curve” when it comes to diplomatic matters, including European policy.

He said: “There is no doubt that the priority should be to rebuild a strong Franco-German alliance, but does he really need to dis Italy to do that?”

Daily Express :: World Feed

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