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Italy has a new government. Gualtieri leaves EP to become Economy minister, Gentiloni to be proposed as commissioner

The president of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella (right side), gave Giuseppe Conte (standing on the left side) the mandate to chair a new government [personal archive]

Finally Italy has a new government and a nomination for the European Commission. Giuseppe Conte will guide his second ruling coalition, after the president of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, accepted both the team and the political program. On Thursday (5 September) the new executive formed by the Democratic Party (PD) and the Five Star Movement (M5S) will be sworn and take office.

Who’s who in the Italian government: not all good news for Europe

Let’s have a look at key people of the new government. Giuseppe Conte, as said, will conserve the post of prime minister. There are two surprises in the new Italian team. The first one is Luigi Di Maio. The leader of the Five Stars will cease to serve as minister for Employment and Economic Development to start his new role of minister for Foreign Affairs. Yep, it will be Di Maio the one in charge of managing the Italian diplomacy. A person with no experience whatsoever in foreign affairs will have to deal with professionals such as Sergei Lavrov (Russia), just to mention one name. European partners can’t feel safe at all, we can imagine. Di Maio’s priority number one will be to reassure sceptics that he would be a good minister, nevertheless.

The good news for Europe is Roberto Gualtieri (PD) as new minister of Economy. Officially he still is member of the European Parliament, but he will resign. Nicola Danti is ready to replace him. Gualtieri spent the last five years working on economic files as president of the committee for Economic Affairs. He was then confirmed chair of the parliamentary committee last July. He knows economy, he is pro-European, he always works in order to find solutions and compromises.

The European partners can be happy for Gualtieri’s appointment, starting from the European Parliament. “The eurozone now has a more reliable partner in Italy”, commented Sven Giegold, MEP of the Greens. “Gualtieri can contribute to a new era in Italy’s fiscal policy”.

Vincenzo Amendola is the new minister for European Affairs. He already was undersecretary of state for foreign affairs between January 2016 and June 2018. As member of the Italian Parliament we sat in the Foreign and European Affairs Committee. It seems to be another people with the right competences to serve play the role thought for him.

The European Parliament welcomed the new government

The president of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, didn’t want to enter too into the details of the new Italian ruling team. He just stressed, on behalf of the institution he represents, the importance of having put to and end the political crisis in the country.

With a budgetary law to be submitted to the European Commission by mid-October, time should not be wasted and turbulences must be avoided.

Paolo Gentiloni selected as commissioner

Too bad for Federica Mogherini. At informal level PD and M5S found agreement on the Italian member of the next European Commission. It’s Paolo Gentiloni, former prime minister, who will be presented to the president-elect of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. Italy doesn’t put forward a woman, but the name of Gentiloni gives strong guarantee in terms of pro-EU credentials.

Gentiloni is a very appreciated politician, with a proven pro-European record and high competences. He hosted in Rome the ceremony for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, the document who turned the European Economic Community into the European Union. Gentiloni is a household name at EU level, there is no doubt about it. So he could secure for the country an important portfolio in Brussels, as Italy has been claiming even before last May European elections.

The Italian commissioner nomination will be formally announced tomorrow, after the new government will enter into force. Then interviews in Brussels will start, and von der Leyen will be finally able to complete the composition of her team.

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