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Antonio Tajani
Tajani 2023 (cropped).jpg
Tajani in 2023
Deputy Prime Minister of Italy
Assumed office
22 October 2022
Serving with Matteo Salvini
Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni
Preceded by Matteo Salvini (2019)
Luigi Di Maio (2019)
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Assumed office
22 October 2022
Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni
Preceded by Luigi Di Maio
President of the European Parliament
In office
17 January 2017 – 3 July 2019
Vice President Mairead McGuinness
Preceded by Martin Schulz
Succeeded by David Sassoli
First Vice-President of the European Parliament
In office
1 July 2014 – 18 January 2017
President Martin Schulz
Preceded by Gianni Pittella
Succeeded by Mairead McGuinness
European Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship
In office
9 February 2010 – 1 July 2014
President José Manuel Barroso
Preceded by Günter Verheugen
Succeeded by Michel Barnier (Acting)
European Commissioner for Transport
In office
9 May 2008 – 9 February 2010
President José Manuel Barroso
Preceded by Jacques Barrot
Succeeded by Siim Kallas
Secretary of Forza Italia
Assumed office
15 July 2023
Preceded by Office established
Member of the Chamber of Deputies
Assumed office
13 October 2022
Constituency Velletri
Member of the European Parliament
In office
1 July 2014 – 12 October 2022
Constituency Central Italy
In office
14 July 1994 – 8 May 2008
Constituency Central Italy
Personal details
Born (1953-08-04) 4 August 1953 (age 70)
Rome, Italy
Political party UMI (1970s)
FI (1994–2009)
PdL (2009–2013)
FI (since 2013)
Other political
affiliations
European People's Party
Spouse
Brunella Orecchio
(m. 1988)
Children 2
Education Sapienza University
Signature

Antonio Tajani (Italian pronunciation: [anˈtɔːnjo taˈjaːni]; born 4 August 1953) is an Italian politician, journalist and former Italian Air Force officer, who has served as Deputy Prime Minister of Italy and Minister of Foreign Affairs since 22 October 2022. He served as President of the European Parliament from 2017 to 2019, as European Commissioner from 2008 to 2014, and also as a member of the European Parliament from 1994 to 2008 and again from 2014 to 2022 until he was elected to Italy's Chamber of Deputies.

Following the death of Silvio Berlusconi, on 15 July 2023, Tajani was appointed secretary of Forza Italia, becoming the party's new leader.

Career

Early years

Born to a mother from Ferentino, in the province of Frosinone, and a father from Vietri sul Mare, in the province of Salerno, Tajani attended the Liceo Torquato Tasso in Rome and graduated in law from the Sapienza University of Rome; he was a reserve officer of the Italian Air Force. After attending the high specialization course in air defense at Borgo Piave di Latina, he was air defense controller at the San Giovanni Teatino radar base. In his youth Tajani was a militant of Fronte Monarchico Giovanile (Youth Monarchist Front), a student organization of the Italian Monarchist Union (UMI). He has consistently advocated the return from exile of the House of Savoy (which was banned by the Italian Constitution until 2002, when the Italian Parliament lifted the ban).

He was one of the founders of the Forza Italia party in 1994, and then regional coordinator of the party in Lazio from 1994 in 2005.

In Berlusconi's first government (1994–95), he was a spokesman for the Prime Minister.

In 1996 he ran for parliament in the Alatri constituency, but obtained only 45.3% of the votes and was defeated by the representative of the Olive Tree.

In 2001, Tajani was a candidate for mayor of Rome for the coalition of the House of Freedom, but was defeated by Walter Veltroni after polling 47.8% of votes.

Professional journalist since 1980, he was parliamentary reporter, editor of "Il Settimanale", presenter on Rai of Gr1 and finally head of the Roman editorial staff of Il Giornale newspaper under the direction of Indro Montanelli. He was a special envoy to Lebanon, the Soviet Union and Somalia. In addition to Italian he speaks English, French and Spanish. He is married and has two children.

European Parliament

In 1994 Tajani was elected a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), and reelected in 1999 and 2004. He was chairman of the delegation of Forza Italia to the European Parliament from June 1999 until May 2008.

Since 2002 (the year of the Estoril Congress) Tajani has been one of 10 vice-presidents of the European People's Party. He was re-elected at the Rome Congress in 2006 and at the Bonn conference in 2009, and then again at the Bucharest Congress in 2012.

At the 2004 European elections he was elected from a list of Forza Italia in the Central college, receiving 122,000 preferences. He was admitted to the European People's Party.

Tajani was an MEP for Central Italy with the Forza Italia party from 2004 to 2008 and sat on the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs. He was a substitute for the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and a member of the Delegation for relations with Israel.

He was a member of the European Convention, which drafted the text of the European Constitution that never entered into force.

He was a member of the Working Group on the Conference on the Future of Europe.

European Commissioner for Transport

Flickr - europeanpeoplesparty - EPP Summit 11 December 2008 (15)
Tajani and José Manuel Barroso at the EPP congress in 2008

On 8 May 2008, he was appointed as Italy's EU Commissioner by newly elected Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, replacing Franco Frattini, who became the new Italian foreign minister. Tajani received the Commissioner for Transport portfolio. He was officially approved in his post by the European Parliament on 18 June 2008 with a vote of 507 to 53 with 64 abstentions. He also served as Vice-President of the European Commission. In this role, Tajani promoted the rescue plan for Alitalia, through the involvement of private funding in the airline capital. His plan was not successful and Alitalia is remains in terminal administration only supported by illegal state aid.

Tajani oversaw the drafting of new EU Regulation relating to transport, including clarification of the rights of passengers in air transport. The aim was for passengers to receive assistance and reimbursement in case of denied boarding, cancellation or delay of the flight. The proposals were poor, resulting in widespread evasion by the airlines across Europe and abuse by customers. Both parties have called for reform of the legislation to make it fair and workable.

European Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship

In 2009 he was reappointed as a member of Italian nationality of the second Barroso Commission, as European Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship; he remained one of the four Vice-Presidents of the Commission. The confirmation of Tajani followed the decline of the candidacy of Massimo D'Alema as High Representative for Foreign Policy. For Tajani an alternative foreshadowed would have been a candidacy as president of the Lazio Region.

Michel Barnier was twice Acting Commissioner in his stead, from 19 April 2014 – 25 May 2014 while he was on electoral campaign leave for the 2014 elections to the European Parliament and from 1 July 2014 – 16 July 2014 after he took up his seat.

In October 2012 Antonio Tajani launched his campaign for a new industrial revolution in Europe in order to flip the tendency of the economic crisis and revamp industry. The concrete goals of this initiative are bringing the value of industry to as much as 20% of GDP by 2020, creating new jobs, and promoting sustainable growth.

The new Late Payments Directive 2011/7/EU that has the goal of countering payment delays in commercial transactions, was adopted in 2011. Following the adoption, Tajani urged a prompt implementation in all Member States, even before the official deadline set for 16 March 2016. In order to further accelerate the process, he launched an information campaign across the 27 Member States that takes place between October 2012 and December 2014. In March 2013 Tajani, along with Commissioner Olli Rehn said that the European Commission is ready to acknowledge "mitigating factors" on the assessment of compliance with the deficit and debt criteria, in the context of a plan for the disposal of old debts of the public administration to enterprises.

During 2012 Tajani led the drafting of a proposal to simplify the procedure to register cars in another Member State within the European Union. Concretely, the proposal, which should come into force in 2014, aims at reducing to a minimum the administrative procedures necessary to register cars, vans, trucks and buses in another Member State. Furthermore, it will be impossible to register in another country a stolen vehicle, thanks to the enhanced cooperation of the competent authorities at the European level.

Tajani al Congresso del PPE nel 2012
Tajani at the EPP congress in 2012

In order to support the European fight against counterfeiting of industrial goods, in December 2012, Vice President Tajani launched an awareness campaign for the citizens. Moreover, in February 2013 the European Commission further reinforced market surveillance through a plan to reinforce the controls of the products in the internal market. In particular, the "Made in" is part of the discussion on counterfeiting, especially for the textile sector in Italy. The package presented by Tajani and Tonio Borg, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy introduces among other things the denomination 'Made In' for products manufactured in and outside the EU, so as to better supervise what enters into the European market.

With the goal of promoting competitiveness and sustainable development of the European automobile industry, Tajani presented in November 2012 the Action Plan CARS2020. The Plan focuses on a transition towards more energy efficiency and alternative energy sources, as well as technologies and advanced materials for the production.

Among the actions that Tajani undertook to foster growth and regain higher levels of employment, it is worth mentioning an Action Plan aimed at supporting entrepreneurs, through specific measures to facilitate business transfers, increase access to finance, and give a second chance following a bankruptcy.

Another of Tajani's initiatives was a project called "50,000 Tourists", launched on 1 June 2011, which focussed on promoting low-season tourism between Europe and South America, encouraging cooperation between European governments, the tourism industry, and airline companies. The initiatives connected to tourism include a Travelers Decalogue in August 2012, a series of rules to travel in full safety. Additionally, in November 2012 Tajani presented, in collaboration with the European Commissioner for Internal Affairs Cecilia Malmström, a Communication to examine how the implementation and development of a common policy in terms of visas could support the EU growth by providing more chances for foreign travelers to visit the Union.

In March 2013 the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso has appointed Tajani to lead the new EU-Brazil working group, which will also include the European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht and European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn. The group will be in charge of evaluating the opportunities for industrial cooperation between the EU and Brazil, particularly in the most technological sectors. On 11 June 2013 Tajani presented the first Action Plan for the Steel Industry since 1977 to help this sector face today's challenges and lay the foundations for future competitiveness by fostering innovation, creating growth and jobs. The Commission proposed to support the demand for European steel both at home and abroad, by acting to ensure that European steel producers have access to third countries in a fair trade market.

President of the European Parliament

EPP Summit, Brussels, March 2017 (32497344774)
President Tajani in March 2017

At the end of Martin Schulz's term, the presidency for the remainder of the eighth European Parliament (2014–2019) would have been due by convention to pass to an EPP member. However, the EPP–S&D agreement appeared broken, making it less certain that Tajani, who was selected as EPP candidate, would be elected president. The other contenders were the social-democrat Gianni Pittella, the liberal Guy Verhofstadt, the conservative Helga Stevens, the leftist Eleonora Forenza and the green Jean Lambert. On 17 January 2017, Tajani was elected after four rounds of voting, following the withdrawal of Verhofstadt and declaration of support for the EPP candidate by the ALDE; he was first Italian to hold the office since the Christian democrat Emilio Colombo (1977–1979).

In March 2017, Tajani warned that "Africa is now risking becoming a Chinese colony" as the Chinese want only the raw materials but not interested in stability.

In February 2018, Silvio Berlusconi indicated Tajani as his candidate for the premiership if the centre-right would win the general election in March. Tajani accepted the candidacy on 1 March.

In January 2019, Tajani expressed hope to be re-elected for a second 2.5-year term, but he was replaced by another Italian, member of the Democratic Party, David Sassoli.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and leader of Forza Italia

Secretary Blinken Meets with Italian Foreign Minister Tajani (52477168431)
Tajani with US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken in Münster in November 2022
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly attend G7 Summit in Japan day 3 (52826672186)
Tajani with the UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly in 2023

Following the 2022 election, won by the centre-right coalition, on 22 October 2022, Giorgia Meloni, the leader of Brothers of Italy party, was sworn in as Italy's first female prime minister. Tajani became deputy prime minister in her government. The new government, Italy's most right-wing since World War II, included also right-wing party of Matteo Salvini, the League. Tajani was also appointed as minister of foreign affairs.

On 12 June 2023 Berlusconi died. A few days after Berlusconi's death, the party announced that a national council would be summoned before the end of summer in order to appoint an acting president and determine the road map toward the national congress that would elect the new party's leadership. In July, the party's national council amended the party's statute by removing the post of president, which would be forever associated with Berlusconi (including in the party's symbol), and introducing the post of secretary. Contextually, Tajani was unanimously elected secretary, becoming the party's new leader.

Recognitions

  • 2 April 2014 - Aragon Empresa Award received by His Royal Highness Felipe the Prince of Asturias for his efforts in favour of industry and entrepreneurship
  • 10 February 2014 - Innovadores Award received by El Mundo in recognition of his support for the industry, entrepreneurship and innovation
  • 17 April 2012 – Honors for the commitment for SMEs and EU integration, Spanish Royal Institute of European Studies.
  • 28 March 2012 – Prize established by the Optical Society of America for his commitment to the promotion of Key Enabling Technologies. The Prize is awarded yearly to public leaders who have distinguished themselves for their activities in the field.
  • 19 March 2012 – Europe Prize 2011 by the Initiative Group of the Italians in Brussels (GII) for his strong commitment for the business community - in particular SMEs - and the promotion of the image of Italy in Europe.
  • 21 November 2011 – International Journalism Prize "Argil: European man" in the category: "Communicating Europe". Award sponsored by the journalists press office (GUS), by UGEF (Unione Giornalisti Europei per il Federalismo secondo Altiero Spinelli) and by 'ANGPI (Associazione Nazionale Giornalisti Pubblicisti Italiani), as well as' the Union of Roman Chroniclers and with the support and contribution of the Regional Council of Lazio, agencies and public institutions.

Electoral history

Election House Constituency Party Votes Result
1994 European Parliament Central Italy FI 50,991 YesY Elected
1999 European Parliament Central Italy FI 55,240 YesY Elected
2004 European Parliament Central Italy FI 123,201 YesY Elected
2014 European Parliament Central Italy FI 109,720 YesY Elected
2019 European Parliament Central Italy FI 69,026 YesY Elected
2022 Chamber of Deputies Lazio 1 – Velletri FI 105,628 YesY Elected

Honours

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Antonio Tajani para niños

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