Romano Prodi, who served as President of the European Commission (EC) (1999–2004) and was twice Prime Minister of Italy (1996–1998, 2006–2008), gives the Opening Ceremony keynote address on Monday 8 October2018.
Prodi has had an extensive career in academia, politics, business, international diplomacy and at the helm of international organisations.
Prodi entered politics in 1978, when he was appointed Italy‘s Minister of Industry. From 1982 to 1989, he served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Industrial Reconstruction, Italy‘s largest public holding company at the time.
In May 1996, he was appointed Prime Minister and remained in office until October 1998. The measures introduced by his Cabinet enabled Italy to meet the Maastricht criteria for joining the Eurozone.
An advocate of transparency, open debate and integration, Prodi assumed command of the EC – the executive branch of the European Union – in 1999 at a time of crisis, when the entire Commission had been dismissed in the wake of a corruption scandal. His appointment to President of the EC took a single hour, with a unanimous vote by all 15 EU Member States. During his tenure as President, the euro was introduced; the EU was enlarged by ten countries from Central, Eastern and Southern Europe; and the treaty establishing a constitution for Europe was signed.
In the 2006 parliamentary elections in Italy, Prodi again led the centre-left coalition to victory and became Prime Minister, serving a second term until 8 May 2008.
Among his diplomatic and academic roles, Prodi has served as Chairman of the United Nations-African Union High-level Panel for Peacekeeping in Africa (2008–2014), was appointed Special Envoy for the Sahel in 2012 for a two-year term and has held teaching positions at Brown University and the China Europe International Business School, where he is now a Member of the Board.