Italian politician Antonio Tajani has been named as the next President of the European Parliament at the end of a long day of horse-trading in Strasbourg which took in four rounds of voting.
Mr. Tajani will now serve a two-and-a-half-year-term, presiding over the activities of the European Parliament and representing the institution internationally. The position is a step up from his current role as Vice-President of the Parliament.
Although not well known among the European public, Mr. Tajani has enjoyed a long and highly lucrative career in Italian and European politics, dating back to the early 1990s.
One of the founding members of Forza Italia, a liberal-conservative, centre-right party best known for producing the Italian President Silvio Berlusconi, Mr. Tajani built upon successes with the party to gain election to the European Parliament in 1994.
In 2008, after serving nearly three terms in the Parliament, he was appointed by Berlusconi as Italy’s EU Commissioner where he was handed the portfolio for transport. In a measure of his popularity among former colleagues, he was officially approved in the post by the European Parliament with a vote of 507 to 53, with 64 abstentions.
.@Antonio_Tajani: “We politicians have to find concrete answers to citizens’ problems, preserving freedom and democracy in Europe.”
— EPP Group (@EPPGroup) January 16, 2017
The following year he was re-appointed and handed the portfolio for Industry and Entrepreneurship which he held until 2014. During his time in that role he spearheaded the Horizon 2020 program, handing some €80 billion of funding over seven years to businesses and organisations – including the BBC – for research projects.
In a recent article which gives some insight into his politics, Mr. Tajani laid out his hopes for the project as it nears review.
“In view of the forthcoming review of Horizon 2020 and of the EU budget, I see three main challenges on which to act,” he wrote
“First off, Horizon 2020 should be focused on fewer priorities, with more impact. Low carbon technologies, climate and the circular economy, as well as new digital and data technologies should in my view be prioritised even more strongly than today.
“Secondly, the European regional funds as well as the European Fund for Strategic Investment – better known as the Juncker Plan – must be geared up to support research and innovation and Horizon 2020 more effectively.
“EU policies and programmes are like pieces of a puzzle that should be seamlessly fitted together. This is not always the case today. Every euro counts and we must therefore fine-tune the design of our instruments to maximise the support to research and innovation.
“Last but not least, my conviction is that when acting in common we can be bolder and more ambitious. To me, part of the EU’s value-added lies precisely in large-scale innovation projects where member states on their own are too small or not up to the task.”
Mr. Tajani is fully on board with the continuation of the European Union project, and the use of business to give a populist gloss to it.
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