Mario Monti (Italian pronunciation: [ˈmaːrjo ˈmonti]; born 19 March 1943) is an Italian economist and academic who has been the 54th Prime Minister of Italy since November 2011, leading a government of technocrats in the wake of the Italian debt crisis. Monti also served as Minister of Economy and Finance from 16 November 2011 to 11 July 2012.
Monti served as a European Commissioner from 1995 to 2004, with responsibility for the Internal Market, Services, Customs and Taxation from 1995 to 1999 and for Competition from 1999 to 2004. Monti has also been Rector and President of Bocconi University in Milan.
On 12 November 2011, in the midst of the European sovereign debt crisis, Monti was invited by President Giorgio Napolitano to form a new technocratic government (in Italian, governo tecnico) following the resignation of Silvio Berlusconi. Monti was sworn in as Prime Minister on 16 November 2011, just a week after having been appointed a Senator for Life.
Monti said on 25 September 2012 that he would not run in the next election. Two days later, he said he would consider staying on as prime minister if no strong coalition majority were established in the next election.
Monti was born in Varese on 19 March 1943. His mother was from Piacenza. Although his father grew up in Varese, he was born in Luján in the Buenos Aires Province, Argentina, where the Monti family had emigrated in the 19th century and built up a soft-drink and beer-production business. Monti's father went back to Argentina during World War II, but later returned to his family home in Varese.
Monti studied at the Leo XIII private catholic high school, and attended Bocconi University of Milan, where he obtained a degree in economics in 1965. Later he won a scholarship to Yale University, where he studied under James Tobin, a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics.
Monti began his academic career at the University of Trento; he then taught economics at the University of Turin from 1970 to 1985, before moving to Bocconi University, where he was appointed rector from 1989 to 1994, and of which he is president since 1994. He also served as president of the SUERF (The European Money and Finance Forum) from 1982 to 1985. His research helped to create the Klein-Monti model, aimed at describing the behaviour of banks operating under monopoly circumstances.
In 1994, Monti was appointed to the Santer Commission, along with Emma Bonino, by the first Silvio Berlusconi cabinet. In his office as a European Commissioner from 1994 to 1999, he was responsible for Internal Market, Financial Services and Financial Integration, Customs, and Taxation. His work with the commission has earned him the nickname "Super Mario" from his colleagues and from the press.
In 1999, Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema confirmed his appointment to the new Prodi Commission and he was given one of the most powerful positions at the Commission, Competition Commissioner.
As Competition Commissioner Monti led the investigation into a number of high profile and controversial mergers, including: Scania AB & Volvo (1999), WorldCom & Sprint (2000), General Electric & Honeywell (2001), Schneider Electric & Legrand (2001) and Carnival Corporation & P&O Ferries (2002). His term in office also saw the European Court of Justice, for the first time, overrule the Commission's decision to block a merger in three separate cases, although two were decided by his predecessor. Monti was also responsible for levying the EU's largest ever fine at the time (€497 million) against Microsoft for abusing its dominant market position in 2004.
Monti was criticised in the media and by competition lawyers for the perceived inflexibility of the merger oversight process and the high number of cases that were being blocked. On 1 November 2002, Monti responding to the European Court of Justice's ruling which reversed his decision to block the merger between Airtours & First Choice Holidays said, "Last week was a tough week for the Commission's merger control policy - and of course for me." This ruling in combination with his decision to block the General Electric & Honeywell merger led to criticism in the United States against both the Commission's procedures and accusations that Monti's decisions were politically motivated. Monti, however, was defended by supporters who saw his actions as an important step in the development of competition law in the EU. Dan Rubinfeld, economics professor at the University of California who worked on the US Justice Department's antitrust case against Microsoft, said of Monti, "There has been a lot of talk of politics in this and other cases, but I believe he has been driven entirely by the desire to do the right thing."
On 11 December 2002, Monti proposed a series of reforms to the EU's merger rules and made structural changes within the Commission's Competition department which aimed to improve transparency for companies throughout the merger review process. The reforms were adopted by the EU as Regulation 139/2004 (known as ECMR).
In 2004, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi returned to power in Italy and did not re-appoint Monti to the Barroso Commission.
In 2010, Monti, then no longer a European Commissioner, was asked by Commission President Manuel Barroso to draft a "Report on the Future of the Single Market" proposing further measures towards the completion of the EU's Single Market. The published report, adopted by the EU on 13 April 2011, proposed 12 reforms to the Single Market and was intended to "give new momentum" to the European economy.
On 9 November 2011, Monti was appointed a Lifetime Senator by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano. He was seen as a favourite to replace Silvio Berlusconi to lead a new unity government in Italy in order to implement reforms and austerity measures. On 12 November 2011, following Berlusconi's resignation, Napolitano invited Monti to form a new government. Monti accepted the offer, and held talks with the leaders of the main Italian political parties, declaring that he wanted to form a government that would remain in office until the next scheduled general elections in 2013. On 16 November 2011, Monti was officially sworn in as Prime Minister of Italy, after unveiling a technocratic cabinet composed entirely of unelected professionals. He also chose to hold the post of Minister of Economy and Finance. On 17 and 18 November 2011, the Italian Senate and Italian Chamber of Deputies both passed motions of confidence supporting Monti's government, with only Lega Nord voting against.
On 4 December 2011, Monti's government introduced emergency austerity measures intended to stem the worsening economic conditions in Italy and restore market confidence, especially after rising Italian government bond yields began to threaten Italy's financial stability. The austerity package called for increased taxes, pension reform and measures to fight tax evasion. Monti also announced that he would be giving up his own salary as part of the reforms. On 16 December 2011, the Lower House of the Italian Parliament adopted the measures by a vote of 495 to 88. Six days later the Upper House gave final approval to the package by a vote of 257 to 41.
Labour market reforms
On 20 January 2012, Monti's government formally adopted a package of reforms targeting Italy's labour market. The reforms are intended to open certain professions (such as taxi drivers, pharmacists, doctors, lawyers and notaries) to more competition by reforming their licensing systems and abolishing minimum tariffs for their services. Article 18 of Italy's labour code, which requires companies that employ 15 or more workers to re-hire (rather than compensate) any employee found to have been fired without just cause, would also be reformed. The reforms to Article 18 are intended to make it easier for companies to dismiss or lay-off employees, which would hopefully encourage companies to hire more employees on permanent rather than short-term renewable contracts. The proposals have been met by strong opposition from labour unions and public protests. In early January 2012, consultations between the government and labour unions commenced and on 13 February it was reported in the Italian media that a compromise on the proposals was very close and the government was hopeful that reforms could be approved by the Italian parliament in March.[dated info]
Monti actively participates in several major think tanks. He is a member of the Praesidium of Friends of Europe. He was the founding chairman of Bruegel, another European think tank, which was formed in 2005. He is also the European Chairman of the Trilateral Commission, a think tank founded in 1973 by David Rockefeller.
Monti is a leading member of the exclusive Bilderberg Group. He has also been an international advisor to Goldman Sachs and The Coca-Cola Company. He has also been a member of the "Senior European Advisory Council" of Moody's and he is one of the members of the "Business and Economics Advisors Group" of the Atlantic Council.
In 2007, Mario Monti was one of the first supporters of the first European civic forum, États Généraux de l'Europe, initiated by European think tank EuropaNova and European Movement. He was also a member of the French government's Attali Commission from 2007 to 2008, appointed by Nicolas Sarkozy to provide recommendations to enhance economic growth in France.
Monti is a founding member of the Spinelli Group, an organization launched in September 2010 to facilitate integration within the European Union (other members of the steering group include Jacques Delors, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Guy Verhofstadt, Andrew Duff and Elmar Brok).
Monti is married to his wife Elsa and has two children.
Known for his reserved character, Monti acknowledges not being especially sociable. He has said that his youth was given over to hard study; spare-time activities included cycling and keeping up with world affairs by tuning in to foreign short-wave radio stations.
Awards and decorations
|Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic – awarded on 29 November 2004|
|Commander of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic – awarded on 27 December 1992|
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