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About 4 million British citizens visit Italy each year, while 2 million Italians visit the UK. There are about 19,000 Britons resident in Italy, while 150,000 Italians live in the UK.

Italy is an important partner of the United Kingdom, both in the bilateral context and in our work together as members of the European Union, NATO, G8 and other international organisations. This relationship is strengthened by frequent contacts at ministerial level. A UK-Italy prime ministerial Summit was held in Rome on 13 July 2004. The two Prime Ministers also meet regularly at EU Heads of Government meetings and other multilateral fora. Co-operation in other areas includes the annual British-Italian Conference at Pontignano, which brings together opinion formers from both countries to debate topical issues.

UK-Italy summits

Cultural Relations with the UK
Italian influence on Britain's cultural and social development has been profound. The Renaissance, probably the most significant cultural explosion to affect the UK began in Italy. Italian literature influenced Chaucer, Milton and the Romantic poets. Many of Shakespeare's plays are set in Italy and Italian architects, painters, musicians and composers have all made a great impact in the UK.

British contemporary visual and performing arts are well respected in Italy and there is a constant and lively exchange at all levels. British contemporary art, architecture and design has a high profile in the Italian media and British music, ranging from the main classical orchestras and conductors to popular DJs, figures prominently on the Italian scene.

British Council: Italy The British Council has operated in Italy for sixty years and organises events and exchanges in the fields of the arts, education, governance and science. It runs English language courses from its four centres in Italy and provides information services on UK education and other areas of interest to Italians.

elk British Council in Italy

Diplomatic Representation
The UK is represented in Italy through the British Embassy in Rome, Consulate General in Milan, Consulates in Florence and Naples, and a network of honorary consuls (see our Regional Network page). The British Council has offices in Rome, Milan, Bologna and Venice.

elk Italian Embassy, London

Trade and Investment with the UK
Italy is the UK’s seventh largest export market (worth £8.3 billion in 2003) and third largest supplier. The balance of trade remains in Italy’s favour (£11.4bn. in 2003). The UK is Italy's fourth largest market. About 1,600 British companies operate in Italy through subsidiaries and joint ventures and Italian investment accounts for some 6,000 jobs in the UK.

Italy is the world’s seventh largest economy. Policies introduced by the Italian government in the 1990s to prepare the country for entry into the Eurozone laid a foundation for long-term economic growth and stability. Along with the rest of the Eurozone, Italy’s economic performance in 2003 was modest, with growth likely to be around 0.5% for the year as a whole, returning to positive territory after technical recession in the first half of the year.

The country’s standard of living is high, particularly in the North, where unemployment is extremely low and per capita income is amongst Europe’s highest. As Italy has few natural resources, its main economic strength lies in the processing and manufacturing of goods. Another important component of the national economy is the service sector, which accounts for roughly a third of GDP.

Companies such as British Gas, British Telecom, Cable and Wireless, South West Water, Shell, GlaxoSmithKline, Pilkington and Unilever have all formed joint venture subsidiaries in Italy. Against the background of the major restructuring underway in the aerospace and defence sectors, BAe systems, GEC and GKN Westland have established closer strategic alliances with Italian partners. Major Italian investors in the UK include Fiat, Pirelli, Candy and Benetton.