Resurrection of old grievances between Italy and France
Tensions between France and Italy soared in July following the French government’s decision to nationalise shipbuilder Stx/Chantier de l’Atlantique rather than give Italy’s Fincantieri a majority stake, thus reneging on an agreement between Italy and France’s previous government. Diplomatic relations had already been tested earlier that week when President Macron organised a peace conference on Libya without inviting the Italian government that considers itself a key player on the Libyan dossier. The two events, which are unrelated, created a perfect storm among Italians, resulting in some public spats and a queue of French ministers flying to Rome to patch up relations.
Current Franco-Italian disagreements recall the events of 2011, when France and the United Kingdom took the lead in a military intervention in Libya. The Italian government at the time was hampered by political troubles at home was unable to fulfil what could have been a “natural” mediating role for Italy.
The same year as the Libya intervention, French investment in Italy also contributed to the perception of a French conquest of the peninsula.
Contemporary tensions reopened old wounds among Italians who see the French state as protectionist and nationalist, recalling the 2006 attempt of Italian state-controlled energy company ENEL to take over the French-based utility company Suez. The attempt was blocked by the French government, which instead created the state controlled GDF-Suez group in order to keep the company in French hands.