Ahead of the negotiations later this week, David Davis paid a visit to Rome today to reiterate the UK’s commitment to deepening its bilateral relationships with countries across Europe, after its departure from the EU.
Existing cooperation between both the UK and Italy was a key focus of the trip, which encompassed a visit to Operation Sophia HQ – the EU’s joint operation to clamp down on people smuggling in the Mediterranean.
Operation Sophia has rescued over 40,000 people to date, with over 12,500 of these rescued using UK assets. The Royal Navy’s HMS ECHO is currently supporting the operation.
The Secretary of State also met Under-Secretary for European Affairs, Sandro Gozi for discussions about the progress that is being made in the exit negotiations. With hundreds of thousands of Italian nationals living in the UK, the issue of citizens’ rights is expected to be high up on the agenda.
Speaking after his visit, the Secretary of State, David Davis said:
As we leave the EU, we will not be retreating from our responsibilities as an outward facing nation: our ties to our friends and allies across Europe will continue to be close, effective and strong.
We have fond ties of friendship with Italy, both of which pre-date our membership of the European Union, and we are committed to seeing them go from strength to strength long after our exit.
That is why I’ve come back to Rome, to convey the important message that our determination to face shared threats together will not diminish and that we are determined to get an exit deal that works for British and Italian citizens alike.
The trip marks the third time that the Secretary of State has visited Italy since last year’s referendum.